Friday afternoon on March 26 at 2 pm is the show time for heifers at the Angelina County Fair held in the George H Henderson Exposition Center in Lufkin. For Hayley Eldridge, it will be her last time to show in the County Fair.
Hayley Eldridge is a senior at Central High school and active in both the Angelina County 4-H program and Central FFA. Her parents are Christi Grandgeorge and Trey Grandgeorge. She currently serves as the Central 4-H Club President, the County 4-H Council President, and as an Executive County Ambassador. In FFA, she serves as the Central FFA President, as well as the Area 9 FFA 3rd Vice President. Active in the Chianina cattle breed association, she is the Presiding Chianina Queen for Texas.
Hayley has participated in the Angelina County Fair since she was six years old, showing as the Pee-Wee show. Cattle is not her only project. Like so many other youth, she has participated in a wide variety of competitions. She has shown goats for 13 years, entered Arts and Crafts for 4 years, and began showing heifers for the last 5 years. Hayley says, “My whole family has shown goats since I was born, I started showing heifers because of opportunities presented by many people in the county. This year I am competing in public speaking, art &crafts, and the breeding heifer show.”
The beef heifer show is sponsored by Polk Land & Cattle. Heifers are divided into classes by breed, then further divided by age. Heifers are judged first on their ability to calve and raise more calves. As such, they will be judged on body conformation, skeletal structure, and muscling, all of which are highly heritable traits to their offspring.
When asked about her best memory of her days at the fair, she says, “The best memory I have from the Fair is the night of the auction each year.” After the work is done, she and friends get the pitching washer boards set up, and a small fire is built for all the kids to gather around. “We play music and dance and just hang out and have a good time for the last night of the County Fair.”
Along with so many others from last year, she says her most difficult time of her years of showing livestock was last year when Covid cancelled everything. Hayley states, “While it was necessary during the pandemic, it was heartbreaking. Not being able to show projects and interact with the people around the county fair was hard.”
Her mom Christi says, “The Angelina County Fair has been a part of my family since I was a little girl. Our family members have shown various livestock projects, built Ag Mechanic projects, participated in public speaking, cooked food, and created arts and crafts. There are only a few divisions we haven’t tried.”
Her mom continues, “There are so many life lessons that can be learned from raising and creating projects. The two most important life lessons that I think Hayley has learned are responsibility and leadership. Being responsible for another life that cannot fend for itself can be very humbling. Early
morning feeding times, late nights watching over sick projects, proper grooming, and healthcare are just a few of the responsibilities she has taken on with each of her projects.”
“Leadership skills she has learned were not born, they were created and grown,” says Christi, “She has learned that true leadership is developed by following in the steps of leaders that came before, by knowing when to lead, when to listen, and when to help others.”
Coming from a family that has been a part of the Fair for generations, mom adds, “One of the most important facts about the Angelina County Fair is that there is a project or division for everyone. The Fair promotes all aspects of the phrase ‘From Farm to Table’, but most do not understand the larger meaning behind it. It is not just about feeding families with what we grow or raise, it is setting that table and making a Home, ‘a Home.’ There are of course animal projects, but there are also food & nutrition, arts and crafts (wood, metal, and textiles), public speaking, photography, and ag mechanics.”
Bragging about the Fair, Christi said, “The fair is not only for the youth to have a platform to compete and participate. It is also the year-end goal for families that want to make memories, learn, grow, and have fun together through 4-H and FFA clubs.”
Looking way ahead, Hayley plans to attend Angelo State University in west Texas this fall. This talented and busy young lady says she is going to major in Ag-Economics and Minor in Agribusiness. For more information about this year’s Fair, go to www.angelinacountyfair.com.