By Jacob Spivey
WOODVILLE – In October 1963, Columbia Records released a song by Andy Williams about the Tyler County Fair.
Of course, if you listen to the lyrics, you may think the song is about a Victorian Christmas, but for me when I hear someone in Tyler County saying “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I know they are talking about that first full weekend in October, when the fairgrounds on 190 come alive with the spirit of Tyler County agriculture.
This year was no different, while unlike Williams’s song we may not have kids jingle-belling, hearts were certainly of good cheer. The 2023 Tyler County Fair was one for the books. By the time the gavel banged on the final sale item at the livestock auction, more than $346,679 had been raised in support of young people in Tyler County with Livestock, Home Economics and Ag Mechanics projects. Tears were shed, cheers were shouted, and lives were impacted throughout the week.
We had some great moments, Emily Jones won three different categories in the Home Economics Show, Cookies, Layer Cake, and Sheet Cake. The Champion Steer brought home $18,000 and was exhibited by Paisley Seamans of the Colmesneil FFA. Knowledge and wisdom were shared throughout the week as we saw young people experience the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hopefully have instilled in them an inborn fondness that they will never be able to deny.
Each year some special awards are given, the Swinney Cattle Company won the In-County Cattle Breeder Award, Elyn Meredith of Warren won the most prestigious award of the fair, the R.A. Jernigan Award for Outstanding Leadership. Sam Standley won the Lamar Conner award which recognizes hard work. Chesney Adams won the Herdsman award for her work in keeping her stalls and the entire fairgrounds tidy. Cole Clark, Kamryn Grammer, and Abby Stephens were honored as Legacy Award winners for participating in the fair each year since third grade.
The fair had more than 180 entries in the livestock show this year, but perhaps the greatest show was held on Saturday Morning, when young people not quite old enough to yet participate, since fair participation begins in the third grade, when more than 45 young people participated in the Tyler County Fair Peewee Show.
However, there were moments of heartbreak. As animals began to cross the scales on Wednesday to begin the show, word spread across the fairgrounds like a wildfire through a drought-stricken forest that a 4H Dad, who would be bringing his daughter’s pig to the fairgrounds within the next few hours had tragically died in a car accident. Phone calls were made to ensure that the family was ok, and that it was understandable that the pig would be scratched. However, in just the 6th grade, this young lady would not be persuaded, she said her father had told her that it was the best pig they had ever raised, and they had raised it together, so come what may, she would be in the show ring with the pig on Thursday night.