January 17, 2024 739 PM
ALPINE — The Alpine ISD Agriculture Barn was abuzz with activity last weekend as goats, pigs, lambs and their student handlers prepared to meet judge’s gazes amid a crowd of spectators leaning against corrals and taking photographs from bleacher seats.
The crisp winter air drifting through the barn was met with smells of strong coffee, savory pulled pork burritos and, naturally, animal manure. Many of the attendees — shouting words of advice and encouragement from the sidelines — were family members of those competing.
Ribbons and prize money were tucked into blue jean back pockets as students, ranging in age from elementary to high school, courted their animals around the small arena and awaited the judges verdict.
Tannin Ritchie, a senior from Alpine ISD, competed Saturday morning in the swine show. She has been showing animals with Alpine FFA for the past 10 years. Along with her two brothers who are in the fifth and seventh grades, Ritchie works year-around to prepare animals for the Big Bend Livestock show as well as other state competitions.
“It’s year-around feeding, getting up at 6 a.m., going to feed your pigs, working all day, bathing, shearing,” Ritchie said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Ritchie said it was emotional competing in her very last Big Bend Livestock show after so many years with the program, but she is confident her little brothers will carry on the family tradition. Between the three of them, they managed to take home a number of awards, including reserve grand champion and grand champion as well as a few first- and second-place ribbons this past weekend.
“I’m pretty proud of me and my brothers and how we placed, the work that we put into it and our showmanship,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie said that competing in livestock shows while growing up has helped her learn leadership skills, responsibility and valuable real world lessons. She encourages other students to get into the agriculture industry. “It’s hard to stick with when you’re a little kid because it’s not as fun and a lot of work, but as soon as you can understand the values of it and grow a love for showing it’s amazing,” Ritchie said.
Prize money Ritchie has won from showing and selling animals has gone into a savings account she intends to use for college, she said. Ritchie is currently interning with local veterinarian Dr. Allen Ray and hopes to attend Texas Tech to study animal science and one day become a veterinarian.