Sandhills Stock Show rewards kids for hard work; teaches life lessons

ODESSA -- It was show day Saturday inside the Ector County Coliseum as part of the annual Sandhills Stock Show and Rodeo. For the boys and girls who brought their livestock, it was the payoff from a lot of hard work.

“All year, 365 days,” Mason Allen said. “Wake up, feed. Go to school. Come back. Rinse. Blow them out. Spray them. Put them back in their pens. Feed them, and by then it’s about 8:30 every night. Then go back inside and do homework. Same thing every day.”

The day started with competitors making their heifers and steers look as pretty while maintaining a natural look, a process they call fitting.

“It’s almost like a beauty contest,” Sandhills Livestock Committee member Katie Day said. “There’s hairspray flying and clippers running out there, to try and make them as attractive and presentable as possible for the judge.”

An expert on the Hereford breed judges the animals on their body composition and the way they move.

Just like in a dog show, the judge looks the animals over and then picks a group winner. They were presented with a banner, free Whataburger, and other prizes.”

The top steers are then sold in a ceremony that evening, with the overall champion expected to sell for $15,000

“They’re proud of how well they did,” Day said. “And they know that was their goal. But they’re also sad to say goodbye to them.”

“Yes it’s very emotional,” said Sayler Beerwinkle, whose steer “Offset” won its group. “It’s really sad, especially when you get attached to them.”

Still, the most important takeaways for the young competitors are not the money and prizes.

“Responsibility for sure,” Beerwinkle said. “Time management and other skills like that.”

“Just hard work,” Allen said. “When it pays off like today it’s so awesome. And the friendships that are made are just incredible, and they’ll be friends for life.”