ROBSTOWN, Texas — With audiences limited to viewing the 86th Annual Nueces County Junior Livestock Show (NCJLS) through a screen due to the pandemic, participants of the yearly event are still appreciating the opportunity to develop their trade and earn scholarship money.
“The youth gets so much out of this,” said NCJLS President Daniel Bluntzer. “It builds leadership, it builds responsibility — a chance to get a little bit of financing for college — it’s just a great event, and we want to do everything possible to make it happen this year.”
Several events had to be removed so that they could maintain a low capacity, Bluntzer said.
“We would have a carnival, we would have shops and vendors,” he said. “All that, we had to cut out.”
Still, he believes it was important that participants still had a chance to create this year.
London High School Sophomore and 4-H Club member Jaxon Grove was one of the many participants. Grove is in the Ag Mech division.
Although he had his concerns about doing a project that would have little to no physical audience, he soon had a change of heart.
“All those doubts went away whenever I thought of — I’m still proud of what I did,” Grove said.
The 16-year-old eventually created what would be an economical alternative to renting a scissor-lift — an industrial forklift work platform.
“It took 193 hours to build this project, and that’s my Christmas break for you,” he laughed, as he walked around his workmanship. “I’m proud that the county was able to show it off to as many people as as it did — that really meant something to me.”
To him and other participants, he said it’s nice to see how the show was still possible for them.
“It’s really important that they can be sold to the people that want them and to give that money back to kids and reinforce the idea that they should be creating something out there,” Grove said. “It’s very important to show off that, even during coronavirus, even during whatever life throws at you, that you always complete your project, and you give your good worth ethic.”
Grove attributes his own passion to his grandfather’s guidance.
“(He) has always been there for me and has taught me how to do my projects,” he said. “How to have an engineering mind and how to have a good work ethic, so I’d really like to thank him for doing that for me, and getting me to the position where I am today.”
Officials with NCJLS said there’s roughly 1000 or more youth in Nueces County that participate in the event every year.
Those wanting to participate virtually can view the events on the organization’s webpage.