Oklahoma Youth Expo Continues History of Growth with 99th Edition in 2014Thu, 02 Jan 2014 13:09:17 CST
With students just getting back to school after the Christmas holidays, thoughts begin to turn to Spring Break and the upcoming Oklahoma Youth Expo. This year’s expo runs March 12-21 at State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.
OYE Executive Director Tyler Norvell spoke recently with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays about the success of last year’s show and preparations underway for the show’s 99th edition in March. (You can listen to the full interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story. Norvell will also appear on this week’s “In the Field” segment on News 9 Saturday morning about 6:40.)
Norvell says last year’s show continued a trend of increasing numbers.
“Our numbers were excellent last year in terms of the number of exhibitors and the amount of money given to the kids. Our sale of champions set a record of almost $75,000. We gave out $875,000 that night to over 200 young people which was just humbling with the amount of support from our great sponsors and new buyers that came into that program. And we were able to award almost $200,000 in scholarships, both academic and breeding, where the kids won it based on their scholastics or based on how good their breeding female was.”
The nomination process for 2014 is drawing to a close and Norvell says, surprisingly given the cost of feed and livestock, the number of competitors has stayed the same or kept growing.
“It’s amazing how the hog show grows every year. This year we had over 12,000 barrows and gilts nominated for the hog show which means there ought to be seven to eight thousand show up. And then our cattle, sheep and goat numbers stayed the same. So we have over 18,000 animals nominated for the spring which would lead me to believe that there will be 13,000 animals there come March 12th.”
Norvell says the OYE’s goat program has come on strong in its relatively short life of 10 years and, with 2,000 animals shown, it now equals the size of the sheep category.
With continuing construction and improvements at State Fair Park, Norvell says they’ve had to restructure the show a little bit to accommodate.
“Luckily we were able to go in this year and lock in the same schedule for the next three years. We’re going to be on Spring Break every year and we’re also going to be able to keep the premium sale on a Friday night. We’ll move in, show the breeding females all at the first with the gilts and the heifers and the does and the ewes then we’ll have the market shows toward the end as we have and then have the sale of champions on March 21st. There’s been a lot of change the last couple of years and everybody’s been real patient with us, but I’m really excited to say for the next three years we have that schedule locked in.”
Norvell says preparations for this year’s show are progressing very well and new sponsors are stepping in to help. The latest platinum sponsor to be added is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma at the $25,000 level.
“It’s always so humbling to me the people who come to us and say, ‘We want to be a part of your program. It’s a way for us to invest in rural Oklahoma and the youth of Oklahoma.’ And we’re always looking for more. There’s no donation that’s too big or too small because, at the end of the day, you’re investing in human capital. You’re investing in the young people of this state to make our state better. Because continually, more and more sponsors are coming and saying, ‘We want to get involved not only because we want to help young people, but we want your young people to come to work for us some day because they have work ethic and integrity and honesty and they show up to work, most importantly. Because the weather may be bad and tough and they’re out there taking care of livestock because they know what it is to put others before themselves and to be dedicated to a certain cause.”
Click here for more information about the Oklahoma Youth Expo.
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