The Rise of San Antonio: A Budding Rose for STLA or Still the Same Thorny Bush?
Submitted by Suzanne Perry

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How do you best measure success? Is it just about hard work, effort, and resolve? How much weight should financial troubles carry? Should public relations be gauged? And, where do you factor in organizational pride and spirit that seem to come from the experience? The San Antonio Longhorn Show has always had, and continues to promise, the potential of being a premier Longhorn event in central Texas. But for STLA members, it often times ends up being the biggest headache faced during the year. The future of the San Antonio Show and STLA's involvement with it certainly remains in limbo.

If you attended the show, you realize that some pretty amazing things happened this time around. And, it's hard to imagine that anyone could not think that some slim amount of progress has been made with this year's show. Were there still problems this year? O yeah! Were there long lines and delays in getting in? For some people, yes. Did we make a profit? It’s pretty slim, but we're not in the red this year. Did some of our exhibitors get frustrated? Yes, and they vow not to ever come back. Did the Longhorn Show draw the biggest crowds and attention at the Stock Show? No doubt about it! Is this show worth the effort? That’s definitely to be determined.

Below are excerpted thoughts and reactions from some of the STLA members who exhibited at and/or worked the show. When asked for their comments, each graciously supplied some robust feedback. These observations should become a helpful resource to all of us as we decide what happens next in the saga of the STLA and the San Antonio Livestock Show.

Bob Rork:
"I thought the show went well. Normal confusion at the gate and in the start time on Saturday....It would have been nice if we could have had one gathering area rather than two, but that’s hard to do with the constraints on the pens and runways for the non-haltered show and the large competing show in the same barn as our loose animals. All in all it seemed to me to go well and it sure was nice to have programs."

Barbara Homer:
"It could be the start of a good show year but unfortunately, it is very disorganized and the right hand never seems to know what the left is doing. They fail to communicate—i.e., not telling Christy that our show time had been delayed a couple of hours and then having an official gripe at one of our members because we were making them work late!

"Some problems that came up were never resolved by the officials, we had to take it on ourselves. When I needed extra pens, it was "we will have to find someone," and they never came back. I finally said to hell with it and just took the pens. We were divided in half when there were plenty of open pens in the barn and we had been told we would be inside. We heard numerous remarks that the Beef Masters were more important than the Longhorns. One of them even tried to tell us we could not move our steers over to the show ring, we were in their way. Some, not all, were rude or totally ignored us when we tried to explain our requirements and they didn't have a clue as to what to do. It was like they waited for us to get mad, before they made a move.

"I guess this is sort of like patting myself on the back but I personally thought the STLA people were great. "We drew a great crowd and they were in total awe of the steers: I don't see this level of excitement about other breeds. "We had two new members, showing for the first time, who were totally disgusted. I assured them this was not the norm. Other shows are so much easier to access, we don't feel the discrimination and they are just much more convenient. The Star of Texas, may have a few drawbacks, but overall, is much easier to work. Parking is not great, but trailer parking is much better. They are better set up for our check-in, unloading, and working animals in non-haltered. I personally prefer our affiliate shows and I will continue to show in Austin, but have serious doubts about San Antonio. This is no sour grapes, as we did fairly well. I just feel that we aren't really wanted in San Antonio by some, again, not all."

Clarence Harabis:
"I worked the non-haltered animal portion of the show on Friday and Saturday and I have to say that I feel that all went very smoothly. The check-in to the fair grounds, the unloading and the parking of the trailers was not bad at all. We did from time to time have some things that we needed changed as far as pens, but there were a couple of guys that were with the SA Show that were working with us the best that they could to get things as good as possible for us. There were good pens, plenty of water, and the animals had it pretty good.

"The only thing that I wish we could get changed is trying to get the non-haltered cattle some place to where they could be more easily seen by those attending the show. There was a lot of interest from those that did see the animals and some breeders may have even had a chance to promote and sell some of their cattle. Overall, I think that the show was a great one for those that either showed cattle or just visited the Longhorn Show.

"Keeping in mind that everything will never be exactly like we want it, I'd have to say we had a great show, as well as a great time."

John Randolph:
"I think the show in general was good, especially for this year being the first for showing non-haltered cattle. I personally think that SA should have required all exhibitors to stay one more day. It would have given everyone a chance to talk and try to sell some more cattle, especially with it being over the weekend. I still do not like the way SA treats their exhibitors- because if it wasn't for us, what would the public come to view?

"The change with check-in rules—staging off site— was very disruptive, even though I don't disagree with the reasoning (the traffic control on SBC Parkway), they should have informed us that chek-in would be different this year. This also caused some stress due to late check-ins which was a direct result of this off site staging... some people waited more than 2 hours in the parking lot. The other problem was SA changing the haltered show time from 8:00 am. One would have thought that they knew about this at least the day before so that some of us (and our relatives) would not have had to get up @ 5:00 am to be ready by 7:30 and then not show until after 11:00 (after the animals got messed up again).

"The lack of communication from SA to the exhibitors leaves a lot to be desired. Another pet complaint I have is SA has gaters and greeters that help us unload- but when it is time to leave, you are on your own; but on the other hand they don't have to help you unload- so is that so bad?

"Great STLA crew this year... Hats off to the non-haltered crew; it got a little slow in the older divisions, however, with having to move the cattle so far, it went very well. The hospitality booth was received very well and is a good addition for our members.

"Some exhibitors said they would not be back! The crowds were very responsive and I thought good. The stands were full most of the time. There were a lot of pictures taken. More than a couple of exhibitors sold some cattle with quite a few inquiries taking place. We still need more entries, but it is very difficult to promote this show more heavily, when SA is unyielding and non-responsive to our concerns and needs.

"This is the hardest show to deal with- except for Houston which is a close second concerning exhibitor treatment( i.e. staging, correct paperwork, their mistakes, handling changes, parking and the overall attitude toward exhibitors) mainly because most of the facility people are volunteers who don't want to be there anyway. They should be much more receptive to their customers."

Dr. Scott Kimble:
"... In genreal and to the point, the SA Rodeo people were quite unorganized, from the entry gate to the pens in back! They were not set up for this type of show and show cattle, LONGHORNS. Too many chiefs and no indians.

"But the good thing is- the SA Show chairmen was quite impressed with the show and the amount of crowd we drew. He even commented about it on K-BUC radio. He was questioned about what he thought was the most impressive thing he had seen. His comments were about the LONGHORNS AND THE CROWD IT DREW AND THE REACTION AND SOUNDS !!!!!! Good stuff for us. He also stated that they were going to work on making this (the Longhorn show) a bigger and better event.

"After we (the STLA crew) figured out that we were not getting any organized/understood help, the back crew stepped up, figired out how to split the cattle and made lemonade out of a big lemon. In the end IT WAS AN IMPRESSIVE EVENT. The rodeo people need to let us organize the pens.

"We, the non-haltererd cattle, were tucked away in the livestock exhibit barn, the next barn over from cattle barn #2. The non-haltered animals had none to restricted exposure to the public. There is a yearly contract on this particular sale arena and pens. We were in someone else's area. It was often expressed and commented on we were in the wrong place. The Beef Master sale crew were in a battle with the STLA back crew on moving cattle. The sale and the non-haltered show were at the same time. Can't double work a set of pens. Cattle barn people and the Sale barn people did not communicate at all— and did not care. No help, and no concern to help, from the SA people. We had to get in their face numerous times with them finally backing down and letting us do our job. Poor Barbara Homer,I think she mentally choked 5 grown men a couple of times. The resolve was us not backing down... and the SA people finally backing away.

"The STLA folks do an incredible job!
STLA people always step up and help. All you have to do is ask if needed. There were not enough people to work and the pens were not set up for easy usage. I gathered that the cattle to pen set up would have be workable. Quite the opposite. Even with some new people/members working, we did good. Got to break them in some time. Our people worked with integrity and played it cool. The Longhorns won this battle!!!

"As the SA show chairman commented, the crowds were quite impressive. He stated that he had not seen such a crowd, five-deep, on tiptoe, ever before and their response was incredible. The ooh's and aah's and the applause were pretty cool. But the looks on the faces of the people in the crowds were... PRICELESS!!!

"The SA Show personnel are pretty disorganized and they have an ongoing lack of cross and direct communication skills.

" I think we made a incredible impression on the public. I think we need to go for it one more time with directly working with the SA Show Chairman that made those comments. I would be more than happy to work with Christy, and whomever else, to make this happen. More exposure. I think we are in unless I read people wrong.

" The crowds were great and quite full. Even compared to the TLBAA World Show. There were more non-Longhorn people and spectators than Longhorn people. Best non-LH crowd that I have seen at any show!. That's what we need more of."

Steven Zunker:
"What a great job by the South Texas Longhorn Association at the San Antonio Stock Show! The STLA Show Chair was well organized, the show Program we had was professionally presented, and the spectator attendance was the envy of any show. A good spectator crowd, larger than I have seen at any other show, was in the stands throughout the day. The enormous crowd that gathered towards the end of the non-haltered show was very impressive. The stands were full and people were standing five to six deep all the way around the show arena with cameras flashing.

"The organization (and some attitudes) of the San Antonio Stock Show itself does need some tweaking, but I figure when it is the second largest show of its kind in the country, that is to be expected. I have heard similar comments for people within other breeds showing at the San Antonio Stock Show. The Texas Longhorns truly did turn a lot of heads in San Antonio.

"Several ranches that had show cattle at San Antonio have stated that they have had an increase in cattle enquiries since the show. This show was well worth the time."

Wilton Wilton:

"The San Antonio Livestock Exhibition is one of the premier events in our show season. STLA lately has treated SALE like it was not wanted, cost too much, and generally expected to have problems. Something like a self fulfilling destiny. SALE is clearly more comfortable than Austin, and easier to get in and out of than Houston. I would rank it behind Fort Worth in my priorities for shows. If there are problems— it's money... and that's our fault. As an association, lately, we do not support the show. SALE said they wanted us and they demonstrated it. Bravo!

"This show worked to my satisfaction and not because my cattle did well. I have been to every San Antonio Show and this one was the easiest to get in and out. The accommodations were great. The courtesy of the check-in and check-out was better than ever. The SALE officials clearly tried to accommodate us. Much of this treatment was facilitated by Christy and her ground work, much like she has done with the Austin Show for years.

"I encountered no problems. I would suggest the show personnel ask for STLA and Longhorn breeder's advice on how to set up the pens and the arena for the loose animals. My entry time was less than 30 minutes. "These are longhorns -Let them through," was heard several times. All paper work was in order and easily found.

"The STLA team was superb. I couldn't ask for anything more.

"The SALE and STLA need to pay the Kimballs to come to the show and bring their cows and magnificent steers. The crowds were 4-5 deep during this part of the show!

"We could have been stalled in a more central part of the barn to showcase our cattle. We could have had more entries to showcase our cattle. Spectators were few on the first night. We could be put in the show at a later time so word of our Longhorn cattle's participation would get out to the general public. In summary the crowds were great for Longhorns; mediocre for other parts of the show— not much different than other breeds.

The S A Show ranks near the top. Sure beats Austin and Belton for accommodations when the weather is bad. Fort Worth is the only show that is better in all categories - equal on weather. And the premium money is always a big plus. Houston is too hard to get in and out."

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