WAXAHACHIE

The Ellis County Livestock Show and Rodeo rocked the county for the second year in a row for the last two weekends at the Youth Expo Center in Waxahachie.

The nine-day event ran from Thursday, March 21 to Saturday, March 30 and featured several local vendors, beer and BBQ, live music from Texas country artists Curtis Grimes and Brandon Rhyder and livestock shows ranging from goats and rabbits to swine and heifers.

This year’s event began by distinguishing itself from the year previous by upgrading from the International Professional Rodeo Association to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association — the largest rodeo-sanctioning body in the world, according to The Wrangler Network.

“It was a very professionally-done rodeo,” Ellis County Expo president Lynda Isbell stated. “It went very smoothly and they were really great to work with.”

The 10-day event concluded this past Saturday with a Sale of Champions where FFA and 4-H students who qualified by finishing in the top of their respective weight classes and divisions auctioned off their livestock.

Cameron Luedtke, of Midlothian, sold her grand champion steer for a 2019-record $27,000 to Southern Welding. Expo livestock committee chair Amber Huckabee stated that all grand champions set a record with selling 20 percent more than the previous year.

Funds are typically used by the students to reinvest into a project the following year or to apply toward college.

Isbell remarked that when they implemented the rodeo and concert portions of the 10-day event last year, that livestock sales increased by $260,000 and gained 31 new buyers.

Although the committee has yet to compile their full numbers until their follow-up meeting next Tuesday, Isbell stated that the PRCA helped fill the 3,000 seating capacity at the Expo Center.

"The sale was really good on Saturday," Isbell recalled. “We also ran out of seats [during the sale] on Saturday. That’s one of the things we’ll be looking at next year, is to increase our capacity."

One of Isbell’s proudest moments over the weekend was advocating for the kids’ participation in the livestock show and rodeo. She said watching them have fun was one of her biggest joys the past week-and-a-half.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the little buckaroos rodeo that we added on Saturday morning,” she expressed. “We had about 72 kids that participated in the kid's rodeo. It was awesome to watch the kids smile and get them involved in the FFA organizations. It was just a joy and uplifting to get to watch that - and help put that on.”

Huckabee stated that 581 exhibitors and 871 entries were involved in this year’s show, an increase from the previous year's 534 exhibitors and 780 entries. A total of 125 active buyers contributed to the show's 216 auction sales, which amounted to $748,756 total.

As they continue to make new additions and expansions into the Ellis County Livestock Show and Rodeo, Isbell stated that she can’t wait to see what the show will grow into next year.

“We’re all taking a deep breath,” Isbell expressed. “As the word gets out more and as each year progresses, we’re hoping more people look forward to it and it keeps on growing.”

To learn more about the stock show, call 972-825-6050 or email ecyefair@gmail.com.