PHOTO BY BEN TINSLEY: Taber Garcia, 8, overcame a severe confidence spiral this past Saturday to claim third place showing her lamb at the 2014 McMullen County Livestock Show in Tilden.
By BEN TINSLEY
TILDEN — Taber Garcia, 8, had a brief crisis of confidence Saturday as she was about to show her lamb at the McMullen County 2014 Livestock Show.
However, even before the third grader began to compete, it was obvious she had already won… the hearts of many people watching in the audience.
Much like the facial expressions of child movie actress Shirley Temple held 1940s audiences in sway, Taber’s moment of distraught was effectively reflected on her face—a spellbinding and heartbreaking visual for many livestock show attendees.
“Go Taber! You can do it!” chimed in many parents and fellow students in the tight-knit yet competitive group attending the show.
Taber powered through. Blinking away tears, she closed her little eyes, focused and brought home impressive performances of third places in the heavyweight lamb class and third place in showmanship.
The lamb Taber overcame her internal struggle to show, “Too Tall,” is 169 pounds, about three times her weight and at least the same height. Her heavyweight lamb brought in $3,000 during the subsequent auction.
Taber, ultimately, is a ferocious competitor with a very admirable drive to win, officials enthused.
“She’s really tough,” said Chris Turner, president of the Tilden Livestock Scholarship Association (which sponsors the show). “She’s not going to let anything knock her down. She’s very competitive.”
Those who were watching intently were rewarded when Taber smiled for her success—a full set of chops minus a few baby teeth.
Saturday’s event marked a banner year for the McMullen County 2014 Livestock Show, with 92 youngsters competing and a sales total of $512,250—topping last year’s $392,700 gains.
The greatest benefits of such success is to the students, Turner said. The organization’s scholarships offers four semesters worth of $750 scholarships to McMullen County students who qualify.
Turner, whose 11-year-old son Cayden also competes in the show, has been on the board for ten years and has been president for two. He said now is a great time for county residents to come on board and participate in the event.
“We’ve just got our 501C3 status this year. We raise money through our spring social on May 3. We have Restless Heart performing this year, $150 for a couple of tickets.”
Turner said generous donations from both parents and corporations have made recent improvements to the show possible. The barn has been expanded significantly; there’s a brand new sound system and new bleachers.
As a result, the show doubled its class sizes—18 hogs to 30, for instance. This has made the event much more competitive, he said.
“Things went really smoothly this year,” he said.
During the show, agriculture instructor Jim Harris and County Extension Agent Isaac Cavazos were honored for their service to the show and the cause of agriculture—30 years and 15 years, respectively.
Not to forget the bids, which were both generous and helpful to the cause of student scholarships, officials said.
In the grand champion category, Brannon Woelfel netted $18,000 for his medium weight, grand champion steer. Cotton Harris brought in $12,000 for his heavyweight swine. Carter Garcia took in $11,000 for his heavyweight lamb; Colton Gonzales netted $12,000 for his medium weight goat; Allison Rowe gained $18,000 for her rabbit, and Caina Sneed took in $15,000 for poultry.
In the reserve category, Colton McCartney netted $16,000 for heavyweight beef; Carsyn Woodin received $10,000 for heavyweight swine; Jimm Casas took in $8,000 for heavyweight lamb Charlsie Harris received $8,000 for lightweight goat; Heather Haines netted $8,000 for her rabbit; and Donnie Soward took in $15,000 for his poultry.
Association board members said changes and improvements to the venue were largely due to the huge crowds that flocked to the event Saturday.
Board member Clint Walker said the expanded show ring allows more room to bring in animals, and the new bleachers provide a measure of comfort for livestock show faithfuls.
“We were in poor shape before, seating 75, and with our new bleachers we double our seating capacity,” Walker said. “Our improvements are great because they make things better for both kids and parents.”
Board member Carl Almendarez agreed the great thing about the show is that it keeps getting better year after year.
“Every year it’s a little more impressive—and bigger,” he said. “In addition to improving on the buildings, we have more kids, more competition, and better scholarships.”
Much of Saturday’s competition area used to be just parking lot, Turner said.
“A lot of that is because of the kids who have helped us in expanding our barn,” the president said, adding that corporate donations from companies such as Access Midstream made things like bleacher expansion possible.
Back to little Taber Garcia: Her father, Chuck Garcia, runs a local construction business. He said Taber is continuing a proud family tradition by competing.
“This was the first year she was eligible to do it,” Chuck Garcia said. “Her mom grew up showing animals here.”
Chuck Garcia has been married to Taber’s mom, Marnie Garcia, for 20 years. The two of them (through a two-year process) adopted Taber when she was ten months old.
Taber was born in China. Her parents adopted her though an international agency at six months old. They adopted her older brother, Carter Garcia, 15, from Russia when he was six months old.
The family has three show lambs, Too Tall, Climber and Timmy. Too Tall is the biggest of the bunch.
She’s going to miss having Two Tall around, but Taber’s parents say they’ll buy her a new lamb to show around summertime.
As her diminutive stature might indicate, Taber is avid in gymnastics. She also loves barrel racing on quarter horses, volleyball, painting and drawing and math.
Right now she is on the 4s on the multiplication table.
“It’s fun, and you can learn more stuff,” she said. “I’m the only one in my class that can do times 4.”
And she adores horses. She recently won a belt buckle barrel racing in the local rodeo. Her horse is 14—older than her. She also won first place and third place for trampoline at a gymnastics competition in Hallettsville.
“They’re sweet,” Taber said. “They’re nice. I walk them around and we jump them. Plus, bunnies! I like them! And dogs!”
After school, she gets to work on her animals, usually from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
As far as her life is concerned, Taber said she really loves living on a ranch with loving parents and horses and lambs to hang out with.
And when she grows up?
“I want to be a rodeo star!” Taber said.
(This story originally published in THE PROGRESS in Three Rivers, Texas on Jan. 29, 2014. )
Reporter Ben Tinsley can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 361-786-3022. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BenTinsley or on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.