Painting a picture

Taylor Tuso of Allen puts her American Paint Horse, Charlie, through her warm-up prior to competing in the 2014 Labor Day Paint Horse Classic at the Brazos County Expo.

The annual Texas State 4-H Horse Show will be at the Brazos County Expo Complex for five years beginning next summer after a 35-year run at the Taylor County Exposition in Abilene.

The Brazos County Expo won the bid to host the state show from 2019-2023, beginning July 21-27 of next year. Officials from AgriLife and Brazos County will make the formal announcement in a news conference at the Expo at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The move was the result of a competitive bidding process, said Parr Rosson, interim director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System that administers the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program. 

"The city of Abilene and the Taylor County Exposition have graciously hosted the show for the past 35 years," Rosson said. "We deeply appreciate their efforts and the hospitality they have shown. The decision to move the event was based on competitive bidding."

Brazos County Expo General Manager Carl Kolbe called the move a great boost for the facility and for the local economy.

"Bringing in these kids, their families, and county extension agents from across the state will provide an added revenue source for our local hotels and restaurants as well," Kolbe said.

In 2017, the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated an economic impact of almost $900,000 from the show. More than 350 4-H youth participated in the 2017 event, traveling with their parents, for a hotel occupancy of 1,416 total nights of room usage.

"Thanks to the recent Expo expansion, which was completed in 2017, we were able to competitively bid for the State 4-H Horse Show this year," Kolbe said. "That expansion gives us the flexibility to provide two covered arenas, one covered warm-up area, plus three stall barns with up to 750 stalls." 

One of those stall barns is multi-use and can be converted to a warm-up area or an arena, Kolbe explained. 

"That space, and ability to be flexible with the way the spaces are used, will allow us to comfortably host a show of this magnitude, plus many others in the future."

Courtney Dodd, Texas 4-H Youth Development Program leader, called the Texas State 4-H Horse Show the pinnacle of the 4-H horse project and said it offers many opportunities to youth participants, including up to 40 classes of competition, educational programs, scholarships and college preparation opportunities.

"The show is held every summer, and competitors must qualify through their district in order to compete in events such as Western pleasure, working cow horse, hunter under saddle, barrel racing and more," she said. 

Jennifer Zoller, AgriLife Extension horse specialist, and Chelsie Huseman, AgriLife Extension horse program specialist, manage the week-long show along with numerous county extension agents and volunteers.

"The State 4-H Horse show is supported by sponsors and donors who generously provide monetary donations, services and awards," Dodd said. "Thanks to this generous support, we were able to implement a division scholarship program that offers scholarships for college to the highest-placing senior in each of the six major divisions." 

Dodd said Texas 4-H strives to provide horse show participants with the best possible educational and positive competitive experience. 

"We feel the move to the Brazos County Expo site will allow us to expand on some existing programs and activities as well as offer new ones," she said. "In 4-H our motto is to make the best better, and we hope to do that with the State 4-H Horse Show at its new venue."

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