There’s a brand-new show at the Angelina County Fair this year called Reach for the Stars “Celebrating the Possibilities”. It will be a livestock show on Friday, April 19 at 3 pm that will showcase the talents of special needs youth from across our county. Participants will be paired up with a 4-H or FFA buddy to exhibit livestock and learn that they can succeed in the show arena as well.
Owen Quarles will be a part of this year’s inaugural show. Owen is a 13-year-old 5th grader at Slack Elementary and the son of Christi and Wiley Quarles of Burke. He’s got one older brother, Reed.
Owen’s mom, Christi, learned about the show from a social media post. Christi says she’s “excited because there are few activities for special needs students, and this would be great for my son because he loves all kinds of critters and animals.”
Owen used to play baseball on a team, but that program stopped a while ago.
Christi states, “I want Owen to see that there’s more out there that he can do. We are just going to try it out and see. And a bonus to us is that we don’t have the responsibility of caring for any animals leading up to the show!”
Owen said he “thinks it will be fun.” “I want to see a sheep, a pig, a goat… and a cow! I want to pet a cow.”
Completely new to livestock, his mom adds, “I believe it will be a great learning experience for both of us.”
“There’s been a lot that Owen has overcome,” Christi says proudly. “He’s had several health issues that has challenged him and our family. But he has come thru them miraculously.”
Owen’s condition doesn’t have a common name due to its rarity. It’s called Trisomy 6. At the time Owen was born, he was only one of eight known to have the number 6 designation. His mom explains that part of this condition means he was born profoundly deaf. Today he wears a cochlear implant and hears quite well.
In addition to enjoying baseball, Owen loves to fish. In the pond in front of their house, he likes to go fishing. Owen explains, “I use a plastic worm. A green and white plastic worm catch the most fish. I catch bass.”
His teacher at Slack is Mrs. Acker and his favorite subject is science. Right now he’s learning about the moon. “The moon has different phases,” says Owen, “I like learning about the moon.”
Karen Stafford is one of the volunteers leading this new show. Stafford says, “I’ve started seeing this type of show in other counties around Texas, and I’ve seen some special needs kids showing at the major stock shows, and I just felt like it was time to see if we could offer something like this in our county and our community.”
“The support and enthusiasm have been overwhelmingly positive,” Stafford continues, “We have had so many people step forward wanting to volunteer in a number of ways, both adults and kids. The response from the 4-H and FFA kids willing to donate their animals and be buddies for the exhibitors is very heartwarming. We have such an amazing community that really wants to see this show be successful.”
Looking ahead, she states, “I hope these exhibitors will see that livestock showing really is achievable for them and maybe they will consider joining a 4-H or FFA group and becoming a part of the Angelina County Fair in the future. Also, animals can have calming and therapeutic effects, and I’ve seen what it can do for kids with different ranges of disabilities. These livestock animals might be what a kid needs, but they just might not know it yet.”
Registration will remain open until Monday evening, April 15 for other kids that want to sign up.
The public is invited to see the Reach for the Stars show at 3 pm, Friday, April 19 in the Swine Pavilion at the EXPO in Lufkin.