County fair, a way of life

Angela Peacock

While some children enjoy sleeping late with no major responsibilities during their summer vacation, that’s not the case for Chase Runyan who has been to participating in annual livestock competitions at the county fair since she learned to walk.

Showing and judging livestock has been a tradition in the Runyan family for at least three generations. Whether it was shearing a sheep, washing pigs or brushing his steer Runyan has been working along side his parents at countless fairs where his hard work and dedication often paid off.

Runyan has won grand champion steer at the Quay County fair once, grand champion steer at the Roswell fair twice and also won grand champion heifer twice. Though Runyan won’t soon forget his many victories, this is his last year to compete in the county fair. He will be leaving to Butler Community College in Kansas on a full ride judging scholarship.

“(Showing livestock) is in my blood on both sides of my family. Even during the times when I’ve gotten frustrated and thought for just a second I didn’t want to do it anymore I knew that would never happen. this is what I love to do and it’s a good way for me to pay for my college,” Runyan said.

“Showing has taught me a lot about responsibility; it takes a lot of time, energy and money out of you but mostly it teaches about taking a risk because in this business there are no guarantees.”

Since age 9 Brittany Griggs, 16, has raised animals to enter in competition at the Quay County Fair. Though caring for her livestock is time consuming and at times a job more than entertainment, Griggs said what she gained throughout her years makes it worth while.

“It’s a great experience to get to learn the all the responsibility involved in taking care of your animals,” said Griggs, who has six pigs, one steer and three sheep entered in this year’s fair. “Another good aspect is all the money I make from the sales I put into a fund that goes towards my college education.”

Doug Sours, Tucumcari High School agriculture teacher, also thinks that children who raise animals to show at the fair learn a great deal about responsibility and hard work, however, he said for most participants it’s more a way of life.

“Here in Quay County we have some fourth and fifth generation kids showing. It gets into your blood and missing the fair is something people just don’t want to do,” Sours said.

Most children who raise livestock for the fair get their animals during the fall of the previous year. From that time House agriculture instructor Tony Johnson explained how children are responsible for feeding twice a day, hoof as well as numerous hours spent training the animals for show day. Regardless of whether children make the livestock sale or not, Johnson said what they gain from simply trying makes participating in fair activities a positive experience.

“Making the sale is like icing on the cake but as long as these kids are working hard they can’t lose because they are learning how to do things and hopefully how to become more responsible citizens,” Johnson said. “It’s an incredible win-win situation they’re having fun, meeting new friends but most importantly it’s a family deal where everyone must get involved and do their part.”