Cade Tyra, a Pearland High School senior, has spent more than half his young life learning how to raise and wrangle sheep, lambs and goats at the Galveston County fairgrounds.
For months, he’s been using that expertise — and his ability to relate to aspiring young champs — to teach people in his generation as they prepared to show in the 80th annual Galveston County Fair & Rodeo, which kicked off this weekend.
“I guess you could say I’m sort of ‘retired’ now for this show,” Tyra said Sunday. “This was my life for about 10 to 12 years and it’s taught me a lot.”
Tyra has been working with younger, less-experienced participants to share some of those learned skills.
“I guess I can relate to them,” he said. “I can tell them just about any situation that might happen with their animals. It’s rewarding to get to share what you know.”
Kamryn Ostermayer, a 12-year-old from Santa Fe, was busy with last-minute grooming of her 11-month-old lamb as she prepared to show Sunday afternoon. She’s following the tradition of her mom, Krissy Leija, who also raised animals for the fair growing up.
“It’s in my blood,” Ostermayer said.
Ostermayer spends hours each day taking care of her lamb, Jerry. She feeds him twice a day and walks him to keep him lean — and burn off some of his energy, she said.
Jerry weighs in at 138 pounds, about twice the size of Ostermayer, she said.
“He drags me around sometimes,” she said.
As she readied her lamb, she also got a little advice from Tyra. Her parents know a lot about raising animals. But as any parent knows, sometimes that advice is better received from a peer, Fidencio Leija said.
“Kids like to hear it from kids,” Leija said.
The shared experience, coupled with the individual responsibility and dedication of raising livestock, is the central appeal of the event, participants said.
Year after year, many people like to refer to the county fair as its own type of family. Most are returning participants and many older generations have passed the skills along to their children and grandchildren.
Dickinson resident Tammy McCrumb showed when she was a child growing up in La Marque. She’s carried that tradition on with her daughter, Brooke, a 15-year-old Dickinson student who has shown lambs for five years.
This year, Brooke McCrumb had two lambs, Tango and Cash, to show after about 10 months of taking care of them.
“Lambs are temperamental and require more attention,” she said. “They’re really not the smartest animals.”
The fair will be open every day at Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock until April 21. Events and shows take place on various days and a full schedule is available at galvestoncountyfair.com.