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San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Is A Family Affair For Generational Farmers

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
The Zapalac poses with their heifer Laine.

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo kicks off this weekend and farmers from around Texas are lining up to show off their livestock. The rodeo attracts families for competition who have been raising animals for generations.

Cattle, hogs and horses line the exhibition halls outside of the Freeman Coliseum. Here the cattle are shaved and bathed; primped and primed for show.  For the Zapalac family of Schulenburg, cattle is a family affair.

“San Antonio was my first large dairy show I ever went to – besides small stuff at home. Over 30 years I’ve been coming to San Antonio,” says dairy farmer Harry Zapalac.

Zapalac is sheering a young calf. His parents started a dairy farm in the '60s. “They retired about four years ago,” he adds.

Zapalac has about 20 cows and heifers on his farm. There are nine lined up for showing. Two entries belong to his 11-year-old nephew Blaine. “This one is Poppy and this one is Laine,” he says as he points them out.

Both are two years old and weigh about 900 pounds. This is Blaine’s fourth year competing. Last year he placed second in one competition. Blaine’s father Donald Zapalac says they visit as many stock shows with dairy competitions as they can. “There’s not as many as there used to be. We’ve got about two or three in the Spring, we go to Houston and San Antonio. Take some heifers to Ft. Worth,” Donald Zapalac says.

Several stalls down are the show pigs. Trent Watson raises hogs with his children. It’s events like these that give his family bonding time. “Some people own a boat, some people own a camper, some people go on fancy vacations, our time as a family is when we come to a livestock show,” Watson says.

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo will be open to the public through Feb. 26th. Attendance last year was more than 2 million people. The economic impact is expected to be $252 million.