Nine days of high-energy action in March won’t be the first rodeo hosted by the Ellis County Youth Expo. And it certainly will not be the organization’s first livestock show, either.

The Ellis County Expo Center hosted its first county fair and rodeo last year during the annual livestock show that took place in late March. Much like the first year, this year’s nine-day Ellis County Youth Expo and Rodeo will incorporate local vendors, live music, a beer garden provided by Ellis County BBQ and a plethora of youth-raised livestock that will be up for auction at the sale of champions at the conclusion of the event, which runs March 22-30.

“Since 1990, we’ve always had a livestock show,” Ellis County Expo president Lynda Isbell said. “Last year was the first year where we added the rodeo and fair aspect to it.”

This year, however, Isbell said the expo is upping the ante just a bit. Last year was the first time the Expo incorporated a junior and sanctioned pro rodeo, with the latter competing under the International Professional Rodeo Association. This year, the Expo has upgraded the rodeo to compete under the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association – the largest rodeo-sanctioning body in the world, according to The Wrangler Network.

“It was a big game-changer for this year’s show,” Isbell stated.

Isbell stated that when they implemented the junior rodeo last year, their sales increased by $260,000 and gained 31 new buyers for their sale of champions.

Isbell said she expects similar growth this year with a higher caliber rodeo at the stock show.

“The top 25 percent of animals in our class make sale,” Expo livestock committee chair Amber Huckabee said of the annual Ellis County Youth Expo that runs Monday, March 25—Sunday, March 30. “They’ll go into an auction where people can buy those animals for meat purposes or anything else they’d like to do with them.”

The rodeos will be 7:30 p.m. back-to-back on Friday, Mar. 22 and Saturday, Mar. 23. Isbell explained that after the rodeo ends around 9:30 p.m., country artist and season one “Voice” contestant, Curtis Grimes, will take the stage on Friday, while Texas red-dirt artist Brandon Rhyder will perform Saturday.

On Sunday, the livestock and FFA and 4-H competitors will move into the Expo Center.

The opening ceremony will take place 7 p.m. Monday with the chicken and rabbit shows to follow shortly after. Huckabee stated that Tuesday would be the livestock’s goat show, while Wednesday will feature the country-raised hogs. Thursday is the annual “Day in the Ring” show for special needs children.

“Last year, we had over 200 participants,” Huckabee recalled of the “Day in the Ring” show. “We had doubled that in the number of buddies that we had.”

The stock show will conclude with the sale of champions Saturday.

Huckabee stated that the stock show had 532 exhibitors and over 1,000 projects entered by Ellis County students in 2018. With an increase in exhibitors and students who validated animals this year, she said the expo expects to surpass those numbers this year.

Isbell also iterated how the expo has been able to double their scholarship and grants in 2019 as a result of last year’s success with the rodeo. She relayed that she hopes to give more in that area if this year’s stock show performs similarly.

‘We’re really excited to keep growing this,” Isbell expressed. “The livestock show has been a tradition for almost 30 years. We’re hoping this will continue to grow and become part of the tradition.”

Huckabee said admission to the rodeo and concert is $20 on Friday and Saturday, while the stock show is free admission from Sunday to the conclusion of the sale Saturday.

To learn more about the stock show, call 972-825-6050 or email ecyefair@gmail.com.