By Deanna Kirk
Corsicana Daily Sun
Though they have met weekly for pretty much the entire year prior to now, and daily the last few weeks, when the sun rises on Monday and kids start bringing their projects to the food show and unloading their animals into the barn, the results of all that effort will be evident.
Arnett grew up the daughter of Donnie and Peggy Gillen, attending Corsicana High School and showing at NCYE herself in the steer competition. A Sam Houston State University alum, she earned a degree in physical therapy, and after working a brief time at the Mexia State School Arnett went to work at Navarro Regional and 28 years later is the director of the therapy center. She is quick to point out that she’s worn many, many hats during her time at the hospital, and she loves her job.
Married to Randall Arnett, Vicki supported daughter Morgan as she showed all through school, as well. Morgan Limmer is now employed by USDA Farm Services, and this year will volunteer and “give back” herself by serving as lamb chairman.
Once Morgan graduated from CHS and went off to A&M years ago, Vicki went right on working and became lamb chairman the next year. Arnett also took on the FCS chairman role, over food and creative arts, after the passing of Jan Ivie in 2008.
Nelson grew up in Corsicana his entire life, the son of Gary Nelson and the former Libby Culwell. From the time he became old enough to show at the NCYE, he was there with pigs, steers, lambs, whatever. After graduating from Blooming Grove High School, he went to Sam Houston State University, and moved away to Minnesota after college for about eight years.
“I moved back and took over the business here about seven years ago, got reintroduced to the community and involved with all this good stuff again,” he said.
Nelson’s wife is a Minnesota find, but she decided to give Texas a try along with their two children, ages 6 and 9.
“I grew up in this show, and these are the folks who helped me,” Nelson emphasized. “I feel strongly about giving back to the community that helped me so much.”
Both agree that as lamb and goat chairmen, they stayed very busy trying to take care of their own event.
They are finding that the general co-chairperson has overwhelming responsibilities that include sponsorship, money and logistics side of the show, and pulling all the pieces together at once is the trick.
“You can’t understand the responsibility of this until you’ve actually done it,” Arnett said. “Even last year as vice chairs, there were things that went on that I didn’t know anything about. There are many, many things like that nobody ever knows about. This is a job you can’t do without a massive number of volunteers.
“The number of people who volunteer and are involved in this show throughout the community is amazing,” Nelson said. “So many people have done favors, dedicated things, given money, time ... hundreds. Thousands. Labor, resources, dedicated to the show and just do it to help. For no glory whatsoever.”
And even though Nelson and Arnett don’t have kids in the show themselves, they believe they are in good company, as many of the volunteers don’t, either.
“This is probably the largest event we have in this county, that touches the most kids, the most volunteers,” Arnett said.
“And involves the most money,” Nelson agreed, finishing her sentence. “We have over 1,000 entries, and well over 100 volunteers. We will raise over $400,000 this year for our sale, even though we’re hoping for $500,000, all of which goes back to kids.”
They both believe expo goers will notice drastic improvements this year to the facility, and eight to 15 people have been there daily for the past three weeks getting things set up and ready for Monday.
For example, the sale this year on Saturday will feature a Jumbotron, a 20-foot-wide by 10-feet-tall screen set up by Oncor to spotlight the participants and their projects as the auctioneers progress through the chain.
“The production end of this, our show is hard to beat,” Nelson said.
“And quality of animals, too,” said Arnett. “Not all communities support their sale like ours does. I think we are very blessed. Even in past years when the economy has been so bad, our community has still come forward to support our kids.”
Navarro County Youth Exposition is not the only area of community involvement for either Arnett or Nelson, both are involved in quite a few other projects and organizations that help make the community better. The thing that drives them to serve is a love of community, and in the case of NCYE, they care about the kids and their families.
Not only do FFA and 4-H teach kids responsibility, money management, teamwork, how to cooperate, and how to win — or lose — graciously, it also brings families together.
“Very few things left in this world require the entire family,” Arnett said. “But it’s hard to have success and do everything you need to do with your project (for NCYE) without family support.”
The Daily Sun will provide complete coverage of Youth Expo activities next week, via the print edition, our online newspaper, Facebook and Twitter.
Deanna Kirk may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: email@example.com