The participation rate in this year’s Somervell County Youth Fair was a little lower than in 2017, but organizers indicated that the overall quality was as good as ever.

The judging of the annual event — which features Somervell County students from third graders through seniors who are in 4-H, FFA and FCCLA — began on Friday at the Somervell County Expo Center. The majority attend Glen Rose ISD schools, although there were 18 entries from North Central Texas Academy (Happy Hill Farm) this year.

This year the total number of entries was 343, involving 164 individual exhibitors. A year ago, there were 378 entries and 208 exhibitors. The entries had been up last year from 2016’s total of 365.

During Saturday’s premium auction, sales totaled $101,750. Nemo resident Hudson White earned the most of any single sale price when Grand Champion in the Market Steer category brought a winning bid of $5,000. Last year’s top bid of $6,500 went to Cade Davis of Glen Rose for his Grand Champion Market Steer.

Last year’s premium sale totaled $127,040 overall.

Marty Starnes, in his fifth year as president of the Somervell County Youth Fair Association, said everything went extremely well this year.

“The numbers were down from last year, but I feel like the quality of the animals was still really good,” Starnes said. “I’d still like to see more people come and watch and support the show as it’s happening. These kids work hard, a lot of them around a year — especially the cattle people.”

This year’s special award winners included two earned by Glen Rose High School senior Cayden Miller. The winners in each category were:

Junior Top Hand — Kord Henry

Senior Top Hand — Cayden Miller

Clyde Sexton Memorial Award (FFA members) — Cayden Miller

D.O. Timmerman Memorial Award (FCCLA members) — Ashley Hang

J.O. Pruitt Memorial Award (4-H members) — Lane Smajstrla

Show Secretary Kayla O’Quinn said that although the premium sale total was down from the 2017 Youth Fair, the average per head in the stock show portion was “about the same or maybe even better when compared to last year. It was a great showing from the community.”

While Glen Rose is still a rural community and Somervell County’s population is increasing, interests are becoming more diverse in today’s world — and that may account for the drop in entries.

“Glen Rose is not just a farming and ranching community anymore,” Starnes noted. “People that have moved into the county aren’t ag-oriented. So that’s going to effect the numbers a little bit. Kids now have way more activities than they did even 10 years ago.

“Kids that are doing it still love it. That’s why they do it. They enjoy the competition part of it, and showing that their hard work does pay off.”