Some area residents can remember when the precursor of the Lubbock County Junior Livestock Show was held at the Slaton football field in the 1940s, and how it was accompanied by a wild calf scramble along the 50-yard line.
James Mitchell of Wolfforth is among those who successfully chased calves into the end zone to jump-start a livestock career before reaching the teenage years.
"They were all Hereford calves that year," he remembers of the time he caught a calf.
Referring to the particular one he captured barehanded, Mitchell said, "He was the last calf caught; I think I just ran him to death. Everybody else had caught him and couldn't hold him, and he just gave up when I got a hold of him."
All the schools in the county that had agriculture chapters or 4-H Clubs participated in the early stock shows of the 1940s in Slaton, according to Mitchell.
"They had a good wire fence around their football field," he said. "I think that is why we had it there. We would back up against that fence and put up our panels, and we showed hogs and lambs."
Later, the county show gave way to the South Plains Livestock Show that was held in Lubbock at the Panhandle-South Plains Fairgrounds, Mitchell remembers. "It used to cover about 21 counties in Texas and one or two in New Mexico that joined us."
Subsequently, the Lubbock County Junior Livestock Show opened at the fairgrounds in 1964, according to Jay Winter of Idalou.
"I had the Grand Champion Barrow in 1965," Winter said of a time when he was 10.
For Winter, it has been a lifelong family project. "I showed animals for nine years. I've had two sisters who showed nine years, and four of my children have showed there for nine years each."
The latest edition of the event will begin Thursday and conclude Jan. 19 with a premium auction in the Merchants Building.
Those who have participated in the Lubbock County Junior Livestock Show contend that it has generated responsibility and leadership among the students involved in raising and showing animals.
Mickey Jordan, accountant for the show, said more than 900 entries have been filed for this year's event, and that more are still expected to come in.
The age for participants in the Lubbock show range from third grade - or 9 years of age - through high school, she said.
Randy Jordan, chairman of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce and executive vice president of CitizensBank, remembers that he was 9 when he showed his first animal at the Lubbock County Junior Livestock Show.
"When you went out and purchased an animal and brought it home, and you knew you were going to raise that animal and were going to put it on display for somebody else to look at and hopefully to win a ribbon and make the premium sale, there was just this sense of responsibility - a pride of ownership."
He said of Mickey and their two sons that the show has built camaraderie within the family. "We had a project that we all worked on together. It builds a feeling of pride in our young people, and it also encourages responsibility."
Mickey said their sons actually began showing animals when they were age 3 because the Abilene show was an open show, and that they continued through high school. They also received scholarships to college.
Randy describes the Lubbock County Junior Livestock Show as an experience that is much more than just raising animals.
"I look back at the friendships that were made by going to those shows - the lifelong relationships that were made not only with people who were in agriculture, but with people in other industries that came and supported not only the sale, but also the show."
It also takes him back to memories of when he personally showed animals.
"For me, I knew I had to go out and feed my animals and take care of them. And as you get closer to the show you start brushing on them, and then start walking them, and you start getting them ready to be put on exhibit."
He thinks that for the youth of today, the show still develops exceptional leadership and responsibility.
"Both of my boys used that as a springboard for their college educations. And there is story after story in family after family that has benefitted like that because of the livestock show and because of the support that is received."
Mickey considers the Lubbock County Junior Livestock Show to be one of the top shows in the state, and competition is intense. "These animals go on to all the major shows in Texas."
Winter said, "I sell livestock all over the United States, and people are always trying to get a real good one, saying, 'You just have no idea how tough our county show is.'
"And I tell them, 'Anytime you think your show is really tough, just pack up and come to Lubbock and we will show you what tough is.'"