The first time Calvin Scherer competed in the Victoria Livestock Show, back in the '60s, he and his brother spent $80 raising their hog, then sold it at auction for $220. With their earnings, they made their first payment on a 20-acre piece of land in Victoria County.

By the time Calvin was 12, he was the proud owner of that 20-acre plot. After he and his wife Rena married, they moved onto that same land.

Their three sons, Mark, Travis and Brad, all showed hogs and steers in the Victoria Livestock Show. The Scherers might pitch in with feeding on nights when the boys came home late from a football game, but otherwise, it was up to them to make sure their animals were show-ready.

"We were there to help, but we didn't do it (for them)," Calvin said.

"If they learn, that makes a parent feel good," Rena added.

Today, Calvin and Rena, who recently retired after a 39-year career in the county tax assessor-collector's office, own the Scherer Kubota store on North Main Street in Victoria as well as two other stores in El Campo and Hallettsville.

Over the years, they have remained faithful supporters of the show.

Mark, the Scherers' oldest son, loved animals as a kid, was very active in 4-H and FFA and aspired to become a veterinarian. In December 1994, when Mark was 17, he was in the midst of raising his steer for the upcoming livestock show that March when he was fatally electrocuted in a freak accident.

In the aftermath of that tragedy, the Scherers asked the show's board if Mark's brother could show his steer. The board allowed it, and the steer made the sale. The Scherers took the $975 it earned to start the Mark Scherer Memorial Scholarship, which they have funded every year since 1996. The scholarship helps local seniors who are interested in agriculture pay for college.

The Scherers also buy steers and hogs in the auction every year, both individually and in buyer groups, to support the show's participants. In doing so, they said, they hope they can help more kids learn the lessons that come from raising show animals.

"I just think we need to support our youth as much as we can," Rena said. "Maybe they will become an adult, in life, knowing that things are just not given to you — you gotta work for it."

That work ethic has helped sustain the family business, which was founded in the '40s, and where Brad now works as general manager and Travis works hauling equipment.

"It gives them responsibility," Calvin said of the livestock show. "A good direction."

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Mark Rosenberg reports on rural community life for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at mrosenberg@vicad.com or 361-574-1264 or on Twitter at @markrosenberg32. To support local journalism at the Advocate through Report for America, go to VictoriaAdvocate.com/report.

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