Squealing pigs, heifers, goats and excited school children arrived at the Cameron County Fairgrounds on Thursday for the 15th South Texas Youth Stock Show.
The three-day extravaganza began when the children and their families brought in their livestock and home show exhibits. They weighed in their animals, fed them, flaked their pens and prepared for the festivities ahead.
The annual event will continue through Saturday with judging events, various competitions, food stands, a carnival and more.
Every participant in the show is high school age or younger, and is required to be a member of FFA or 4H, youth development organizations.
The stock show awards scholarships — worth $500 each — every year to high school seniors participating in the livestock show. Organizers said they met their goal this year by getting enough entries to fund the scholarships.
“We just want to keep this scholarship program going on. That is our incentive to work at this every year,” Kathy Rike, director of operations, said.
“We have this activity for the youth here in the Valley, and we are able to reward their efforts with these scholarships.”
About 361 livestock animals and about 202 home show exhibits are entered this year, both more than in 2012. For the first time, the event will also feature a car show organized by various Rio Grande Valley car clubs.
Rike said that while there are livestock judging events all day today and Saturday, she also recommends spectators visit the Horse Costume Regalia Exhibition at 6 p.m. today at the horse arena, the Ranch Sorting Rodeo at 10 a.m. Saturday at the horse arena, and a couple of cook-offs on Saturday.
“We have a pretty packed two days, all day Friday and Saturday,” Rike said.
Festivities will conclude with a Release of Livestock at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The event was organized by a committee of community volunteers, the city of San Benito and the San Benito Chamber of Commerce.
“We are getting a lot of cooperation from the city of San Benito,” Rike said. “They really stepped up and helped us out this year.”