Competitors showed their animals with great enthusiasm during the 2014 Live Oak County Fair last week.
By BEN TINSLEY
LIVE OAK COUNTY – Listening to Endercio Chapa Jr.’s command of the auctioneer’s chant was a real treat for many who attended the 2014 Live Oak County Fair auction on Saturday.
Like many such chants used by United States livestock auctioneers, this one was rhythmic by design and made use of a series of numbers attached to various key words.
Its recitation allows buyers the time to think between bids. The chant has evolved over time as auctioneers realized they needed to sell animals more quickly during certain auctions.
The chant sounds something along the lines of “umbadaumbadathirtyfivethirtyfivethirty … whatamigonnagetwhatamigonnaget … bumbadabumbadaTHIRTYFIVE!”
These chants keep the attention of the audience and keep proceedings moving. But even Chapa’s vocal stylings couldn’t stave off the wearing effect of the day’s grueling, almost five-hour auction.
It tired even the most ardent of supporters—most of whom packed the Beefmaster Building seats Saturday to capacity to bid or pay witness to these proceedings.
But the time spent there nonetheless yielded rewards for those who attended. The 2014 Live Oak County Fair netted $543,220 in sales this year—a tremendous increase over last year’s totals but still not quite as high as the year before that, initial figures show.
Although this number is preliminary and subject to change as adjustments and add-ons are made, it already has trounced last year’s total of $478,949.75, although it falls shy of 2012’s $596,000, records show.
More details will be available in mid-April when The Progress publishes a special edition focusing exclusively on the fair.
But the numbers look good for the youngsters who showed and sold animals or wares during the fair.
Alex Suniga, for instance, sold $2,600 for his metal structure; Noah Arciba sold $3,000 for his wood structure; Holly Kopplin sold her grand champion steer for $10,000; Samantha Valdez sold her grand champion swine for $10,000; Brittany Clifton’s grand champion lamb sold for $5,000; Kyndall Gonzales’ grand champion goat for $21.250; and Saeleigh DuBose’s grand champion rabbits for $8,000.
In the reserve champion category’s Hannah Jimerson’s steer sold for $8,000; Laney Mosley’s swine for $6,500; Kailey Keach’s lamb for $4,999; Kory Humphrey’s reserve champion goat for $21,249; and Moses Escamilla, rabbits for $2,800.
Live Oak County Precinct 2 Commissioner Donna K. Mills—who was on hand when they all were being judged—said the quality of the animals at the fair was exceptional this year.
“I think they have been fantastic, and there has been such a good crowd out here,” Commissioner Mills said.
But the fair wasn’t all about sales. There were cook-offs, midway rides, and fun galore as thousands of area residents arrived for the Thursday through Saturday event.
Jesse Alonzo, for instance, was out and about on Saturday among many who were cooking outdoors in preparation for the annual county cabrito, or goat, cookoff.
He was hard at work that afternoon carving up some boneless chicken breasts. But Alonzo, who has competed for eight years, wasn’t preparing for that particular contest.
“We decided not to turn in any this year—we’re just cooking for ourselves,” he said. “We’re just relaxing and having a good time with our friends and family. We set up here (indicating his tent) Friday evening. We’ve been making baby back ribs, boneless, skinless, chicken, beef fajitas, beet tips, three different kinds of sausage, and we’re sharing them.”
As he handed a reporter an array of delicious meats, Alonzo pointed out his generosity is very common among those who cook in these tents along the grassy areas of the fairgrounds.
“You go to any one of these cookers, and you will be fed—and I am very serious about that,” he said.
Closer to the fairgrounds but still in the grassy area was Logan Muniz, the owner of Sulphur Creek Catering out of Three Rivers. His crew was busy playing “washers,” which is a more coordination-specific version of “horseshoes.” Players toss small round washers into a small hole a distance away. It’s as difficult as it sounds.
Muniz, 23, who attended culinary school at 18, graduated at 19 and moved back to the area to start his food business, was competing in this year’s fair cook-off for the first time.
He’s a big proponent of the area oil shale boom.
“It’s had a large impact on my business,” Muniz said. “What we do as caterers the companies hire us, and we go out and feed the workers …. I have one employee, my mother. I have family and friends helping me cook the cabrito stuff today.”
Muniz said he was greatly enjoying his time at the fair.
“Awhile ago, I ate the barbecued heart of a cabrito,” Muniz said with a grin.
Past the rows of cookers in tents lay …. the Midway.
And at the Live Oak County Fair, the Midway was precisely what you would expect—the traditional merry go round or two, excitingly-paced daredevil rides such as Sizzler, Hurricane and Zendar, mirror mazes such as Arabian daze, and the traditional array of food booths.
Not to mention the World’s Smallest Woman, The World’s Smallest Horse, or the amazing Snake Girl—all on special for 50 cents on Saturday.
Want to toss a basketball and win a prize for your sweetie? That was available too. As were assorted haunted houses.
And parents, grandparents and children alike all adore it. There were scads of moms and dads with their little ones toddling around and teenagers chatting and texting one another.
“What else do you want to ride, Mijo?” asked one adult ushering a child across the Midway.
One grandmother passed by with her young grandson who looked like he was thinking really hard.
“Okay,” grandma said, “You got one more ride. What’s it going to be?”
The Live Oak County Fair Midway comes courtesy of Rickey Dale, owner of Moore’s Greater Shows—a family business that goes back five generations. It’s his fourth year to service Live Oak County,
Despite the many new rides that come out each year, Dale is a fan of the durable, dependable 108-year-old mainstay “Tilt-A-Whirl.” This platform-style ride comes with seven spinning cars that hold up to four riders apiece. When this platform starts to revolve, its pieces lower and raise, creating centrifugal and gravitational force that causes the cars to spin in different directions and at various speeds.
“It’s one of the longer-lasting rides, and its really well built,” Dale said.
Handmade corn dogs and pizza, the newest item on the menu, are very popular with customers, the owner observed.
“Our corn dogs are made with a recipe that is a 75- to 80-year secret,” Dale said with a twinkle in his eye.
After the fair ended Saturday, fair folk prepared to saddle up for travel to Corpus Christi, West, Fort Stockton, El Paso plus areas of New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas and Louisiana before returning to Texas.
“We live in South Texas and stay at home for five months and hit the road for about seven,” Dale said. “I just left my house about two weeks ago to start those seven months.”
The Midway owner estimated that thousands of Live Oak County residents hit the Midway this year.
“Really, this is a fantastic fair,” Dale said. “It’s been in existence a long time, and I’ve always had a great time and made a little money here. The fair board here is great, too. Hopefully, we can make this a little larger each year.”
Reporter Ben Tinsley can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 361-786-3022. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/BenTinsley or on Facebook,http://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.