Local youths gear up for Dixie Natl.

Members of the Stone County Jr. Livestock Association are gearing up for district competition which can lead to qualification to compete in the Dixie Nationals in two weeks in Jackson.

The Stone County Jr. Livestock Association is kicking off the 2020 season of sales and shows.

With 38 youths handling and showing more than 70 market and breeding animals, the 4-H and Future Farmers of America program is growing by leaps and bounds.

“Our group is just growing and growing,” said Brad Jones, Stone County 4-H Agent. “Not only are we seeing more and more kids get involved, but local businesses and individuals are stepping up to help support those kids with their projects.”

More than 50 local businesses and individuals contributed approximately $18,000 and Jones said the program wouldn’t be possible without them.

In order to award prizes and sponsorships, the association held its annual appreciation banquet and livestock sale at the Stone County Fairgrounds Saturday. The participants sold 13 pigs, four lambs and a steer and raised nearly $8,000 for the program.

“The banquet gives us a chance to recognize the kids and also recognize the people who step up and sponsor what we’re doing,” Jones said. “These folks understand the financial and time sacrifices these kids make and they do their best to offset some of those financial burdens.”

One local business, Old South Feed, donated a gift certificate for a bag of feed for each of the participating youths.

Saturday’s wet weather forced the organization to postpone its annual showcase until Tuesday night.

“The showcase gives local people a chance to see these kids and their animals and what they’re doing with them,” Jones said. “It also gives the kids experience in showing, which they’ll be doing for real very soon.”

The youths will compete in the Southeast District show next week in Hattiesburg in an attempt to qualify for the Dixie Nationals in two weeks in Jackson.

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