Monday morning the Ellis County Expo building opens up in preparation for the 24th annual Ellis County Youth Expo when the county’s 10 FFA and 4-H clubs, along with more than 400 exhibitors, arrive and start setting up their camp sites in the stall area of the arenas.

By 10 a.m. Tuesday, all animals have to be in place and art projects will arrive and check in.

Before the end of the day Tuesday, all of the more than 600 livestock entries have to be weighed in and paper checked to verify birthday and place of birth for eligibility in the various classes they will show in

Actual show activities begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday with the open ceremonies held by area 4-H members.

Besides show animals, other projects will be on display through the week. Creative arts projects including textiles, paintings, photography and drawings will be on exhibit throughout the week. Other projects include metal and wood working projects.

In the textiles competition, projects will be shown in quilts, needlework and clothing divisions. Foods will also be a part of the show. The young bakers with compete with their culinary arts in one of the four divisions.

New to this year’s show is a new class for lambs.

“This is a class that has come to popularity in the other shows in the state and we felt we needed to add it to the county show,” said Paige Bishop with the Ellis County AgriLife Extension Office.

For the past nine years, Bishop has been a large part of the show’s operations. His past role was primarily serving as the show’s secretary.

“That kept me more than busy,” he said.

This year Bishop will still be very visible helping with the other 17 advisors with the many needs that arise during the show. He will also take on another role as a show parent.

For the first time, his 9-year-old daughter Parys will enter the ring. Parys will be showing three breeding rabbits and a market lamb.

“In the past, I’ve been along the show ring urging and coaching parents to let their kids do their own thing. Now I will be there with the other parents,” Bishop said.

Bishop brings a wealth of experience to the show and the youth of Ellis County.

“Growing up on a 3,000-acre farm in West Texas and learned agriculture literally from the ground up, I hade no other choice but help with the daily duties of the farm,” Bishop said.

Bishop went to Tarleton where he earned both his undergraduate and masters degrees in agriculture.

“When I entered college I knew I wanted to be either an ag teacher or a county agent,” Bishop said.

In Ellis County he has both being the county’s 4-H Agent.

“Shows like the expo are important to today’s youth. As the area becomes more urban, each generation moves farther away from farming. It’s our job as agents to keep these kids educated and interested in agriculture so they know where these products that are consumed everyday come from,” Bishop said.

Bishop and the other board members, sponsors, volunteers and advisors want to invite the public to come out next and see the many projects and exhibits and cheer on the county’s 4-H and FFA members as they compete with their projects.

The expo that begins with opening ceremonies on Tuesday March 25,  immediately followed by the market broiler and rabbit shows.

Wednesday will be the judging of the creative arts show and swing shows.

All of the animal exhibitors will show in market, breeding, showmanship and peewee classes. The market classes are for county FFA and 4-H members that are between 8 and 18 years old. Showman classes are for market and breeder divisions with three groups, peewee, junior and senior division.

These exhibitors must know how to display an animal properly for the judges, but also have to know their animal’s health, feeding requirement and other aspects to answer question from the judges.  

Thursday the live stock shows will be the lamb and goat shows. Also the judging for the shop projects will be held.

The livestock shows conclude on Friday with the steer and heifer shows.

On Saturday following a barbecue dinner, the annual auction sale will be held in the expo arena.

There is no charge to enter the arena to see Ellis County youth exhibit their projects and the community is encouraged to come out to the expo center for each day’s activities.

The Ellis County Expo Center is located on the U.S. Highway 287 Bypass frontage road in Waxahachie, next to the Cowboy Church.