By Jacob Spivey
WOODVILLE – On the Christmas episode of his variety show in 1962, Andy Williams declared that Christmas was “The Most Wonderful Time of The Year”. He would release a single with that title the following year, and since then, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has been a standard of the Christmas season, regularly appearing as one of the top 10 Christmas songs of all time on a variety of lists.
I offer all due respect to Andy Williams, but if I had to make a declaration, for me, the most wonderful time of the year for me, starts each year as the weather begins to cool, and it becomes time for the Tyler County Fair.
While we don’t usually tell scary ghost stories, if you listen around the barns, you’ll certainly hear tales of glories of fairs long, long ago.
Starting on Wednesday, Oct. 5 we’ll have young people from all over the county bring their livestock, home economics, art, and ag mechanics projects they’ve worked on for months out to the Clinton Currie Fairgrounds to showcase not only their work, but our future.
One of my favorite projects is the broiler project. Exhibitors that show broilers started a short but challenging project back on August 26. They started that day with 35-day-old broiler chicks, provided by the Texas A&M Poultry department, that weighed less than three ounces each. On Wednesday night, they will exhibit three of those birds that may be in excess of 8-10 pounds in just 40 days.
One of those exhibitors will be Elyn Meredith. Elyn is a junior at Warren High School and the Sentinel for the Warren FFA. This will be Elyn’s first year showing broilers at the Tyler County Fair, and to say she has enjoyed it would be a huge understatement.
To be successful raising show broilers requires near-constant attention. To manage the broiler project well, you have to manage every part of their lives. You manage the temperature in their pen, provide them water and feed, maintain a clean environment for them to live in by changing shavings and cleaning up after them and if you do it successfully, you stir those chicks every few hours to inspire them to get up and eat.
A broiler chicken has just a few desires, namely to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom. They also have a pretty short memory, so if you stir them up, they’ll get up, eat, drink and then sit back down. If you come back a few minutes later and stir them again, they’ll get up and do it again, without it having any effect that they just ate a few minutes ago. Not all that different from me on Thanksgiving Day.
One of the best things about the Tyler County Fair is that for a kid to find a whole lot of success in most projects, it involves the entire family supporting them. Elyn has certainly had that with her parents and sister taking part in stirring birds to help Elyn grow her birds to their greatest genetic potential.
Broiler chickens for the fair, just like those for the agriculture industry, do not receive any antibiotics, steroids or other substances and are able to grow to their large size, due to management, genetics, and high-quality feed. Elyn’s birds have gotten all three and I hope nothing but the best for her.
To watch Elyn and all the other broiler exhibitors, I’d love to see you join us at 7 p.m. on Wednesday Oct. 5. Other market projects will show on Thursday, and many of the cattle projects will be showcased on Friday, Oct. 7. Finally on the afternoon and evening of Saturday October 8th, those young people who were selected for the auction will auction off their projects. The Home Economics building will have projects showcased on both Thursday and Friday. Venders and the carnival will both open on Wednesday evening and be open until Saturday night.
The Tyler County Fair is certainly the most wonderful time of the year for me, and I hope you will join me out at the fairgrounds to see these young people showcase their hard work, with cakes, art, livestock, and more!