Youth Fair highlights friendship between students
Monday, 18 February 2013 by Matthew Girard
All this week, the Bell County Expo Center has seen hundreds of students showing their skills of raising and showing livestock in hopes of earning ribbons and having their animals end up in the final auction, but for two students, participating in the Bell County Youth Fair was about friendship.
Belton High School senior and FFA member Evan Smith has participated in the Youth Fair since he was a freshman and has excelled, but this year Smith was not only competing for himself but for his friend Logan Marek.
Smith and Marek met through their church and struck up a friendship. Marek, who is also a BHS student, is autistic but had expressed the desire to participate in showing animals.
"I go to church with Logan every Sunday and I'm kind of his buddy at church," Smith said. "A few years ago he was going to show a goat and then it got brought up that I show pigs. It was just a little thing at first, but my mom found Bud Moore who donated the pig for Logan to show. Then it just took off from there."
Before the pig was donated, Smith had asked his FFA advisor Tammy Gebert if it would be possible for Marek to participate in the Youth Fair by showing a pig.
"He came to me this year and asked if it would be okay to help Logan show a pig," Gebert said. "We thought it was an awesome idea."
Smith and the Moore family raised the pig and taught it how to walk in the show ring before inviting Marek out to meet his pig.
"We raised it for Logan and then we trained the pig how to walk first. Then we brought Logan out to the barn and he learned how to walk with the pig," Smith said. "Right off the bat, he loved the pig. He wasn't scared of them, which was a concern, but he did great the first few times we walked the pig."
After a few more practices, Marek got his chance to enter the ring and show his pig during Tuesday's competition.
With Smith's help in the ring, Marek not only was able to show his pig, but came away with a second-place finish and a spot for his pig in the Youth Fair auction.
"He did great in the ring," Smith said. "We really didn't know what he was going to do when he got in the ring, but Logan was awesome. I was really, really nervous for him the whole time, but he was just smiling and having a good time."
Gebert said seeing Smith and Marek perform was what the Youth Fair and the FFA is all about.
"With being a FFA organization, leadership and personal growth is a big part of what FFA is about," Gebert said. "It's not just about the cows, plows and sows. It really is a learning experience."
Smith and his pig finished fifth during their showing later in the day, but he said what he will remember most about his final year at the Youth Fair is the job that Marek did on Tuesday.
"What I'm going to remember most is Logan," Smith said. "Not what place I got or anything like that. It's Logan because he killed it in the ring and it was great."
The Bell County Youth Fair will continue through Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center.