Mrs. Dykowski... Tis the stock show season

This weekend was the Erath County Junior Livestock show, and I’m happy to see so many Dublin and Lingleville kids competing. 

I was a stock show kid, and the lessons and experiences I gained from participating in that still help me today. 

Scrubbing a pig’s feed trough outside with a sprayer, when the windchill was in the single digits, is not my fondest memory. 

But the self-sacrifice of soggy, frozen feet so that the animals who depended on me were able to eat without getting sick, in a very small way prepared me for motherhood. 

When, as a third grader, in my sheep-showing debut, my finewool lamb jumped up and caught me full force in the chin with his small but sharp horns, I learned that the show must go on, even if you want to quit. 

I also learned that the embarrassment of crying in front of what felt like a million people was something I could survive. 

Once again, not the fondest memory, but maybe one of the most valuable, considering the dozens of times after that I embarrassed myself and still had to show my face in public. 

When my very muscular pig lifted a solid iron panel and dropped it on my toe senior year in the washroom, I didn’t take it out on him like I wanted to. I didn’t use any words that my mother wouldn’t approve of, even though I wanted to. It taught me that I had a little more self control than I thought. 

Later that year, I learned that they do make closed-toe formal shoes and some of them are even cute. 

I learned that passing down skills I worked hard to learn was rewarding. 

I learned that my community was behind me and wanted me to succeed. 

I won a scholarship that paid an entire semester of housing at Angelo State University. 

I won one very gaudy silver belt buckle that was worth more to me than an olympic medal. 

I went back to the Mitchell County show after I graduated to help my parents a few times when they were still helping keep books for the show, and I found that things hadn’t changed much. 

The community was still behind me. 

The sheep pens still smelled bad. 

The pig barn was still loud and chaotic. 

The kids were still working hard and learning life lessons.

The parents were still turning every shade of white, green, red and purple as they watched their kids compete. 

In a few years, maybe that will be Scott and I. 

Watching the kids in the ring, I kind of missed my show days. 

Watching the kids in the washroom brought back an ache in my toe and reminded me why I was glad to be a has-been.

So congratulations to the showmen for surviving another county show. 

I hope you learned that you’re tougher than you thought and more capable than you knew.

I hope you had a great time.  

Sarah Dykowski is the wife of Publisher Scott Dykowski. She can be reached at

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