Participants still will earn ‘bragging rights’ in modified livestock show
For the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo, the show must go on.
The livestock show, that is.
After the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the 2020 event with just weeks to go, organizers decided to again call off many high-profile aspects of the fair, including the carnival, shopping vendors, the rodeo and live entertainment. But the prospect of another year passing with local students denied the opportunity to exhibit their animals and other projects just wouldn’t fly.
“I think this year, no matter how hard it is, we’re going to let those kids show, and we’re going to make those memories,” Barbara Magana Robertson, Fair & Rodeo spokeswoman, said. “It may not be the memory we all had showing animals growing up, but these kids are going to have a memory. They’re going to have that moment.”
Typically, more than 400 students show animals at the fair’s facilities at Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock, Robertson said.
At this year’s event, scheduled for April 16-24, the exhibiting areas will expand well beyond the park’s livestock pavilion to accommodate social-distancing guidelines, and attendance will be limited to the exhibitors, their families, 4-H and FFA advisors and fair officials.
This year’s show will be streamed live, however, meaning the public will be able to follow each individual livestock contest — including heifers, steers, lambs, goats, swine, broilers, rabbits and turkeys — on the Fair & Rodeo website.
The other major component of the fair still going forward is the barbecue cook-off, scheduled for April 8-10. In a normal year, the fair is bookended by seafood and barbecue cook-offs. But this year, the cooking action has been moved to the week before the livestock show. The barbecue cook-off usually attracts a couple hundred teams and won out over seafood this year because of the sheer numbers, Robertson said.
Although the popular event also will be closed to the public this year, “at least they’re going to be able to have bragging rights,” Robertson said. “At the end of the day, we’ll have a winning team.”
Other events going forward include contests such as the Student Art Show, Ag Mechanics — construction projects that encompass everything from furniture to deer feeders — and, new this year, a Youth Project Show. Plans to carry on with select rodeo events such as mutton bustin’ and team roping still were being finalized at press time.
Although COVID rates generally have been in decline since peaking in early January, they’re still not near where what organizers think would be safe to hold a regular version of the fair. Although simply moving it a few months into the fall might seem relatively simple, that wouldn’t work for students or animals.
“An animal is groomed and raised and fed on a specific schedule,” Robertson said. “That show date is very important. It really can’t be pushed back or forward. Maybe a day, but not really months.”
Even setting the pandemic aside, 2021 would have been have been a tough year around the Fair & Rodeo. Paul Tibaldo, who served as the organization’s president for almost 20 years, died in August. But the organization, which sold off last year’s trophy buckles to help replenish its scholarship coffers — among other creative fundraisers — is committed to carrying on Tibaldo’s vision, Robertson said.
“In a typical year, you and I would be sitting here talking about a daylong tribute to Paul Tibaldo, or a renaming of something for Paul Tibaldo,” Robertson said. “It’s going to be a hard year for a lot of people, but I think, given the resilience of Paul and his legacy, he would definitely have wanted us to go forward.”
Visit www.galvestoncountyfair.com for information about watching the livestock show.