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OKLAHOMA YOUTH EXPO

Author: Kristy

OYE CELEBRATES 100TH ANNIVERSARY

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The Oklahoma Youth Expo has been a part of the livestock industry in Oklahoma for a century. It was called “The Oklahoma City Fat Stock Show” from the 1920s through the 1930s. The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the volunteers of the Sirloin Club of Oklahoma managed the show for nearly 60 years.

In 1994, the event was added to the Oklahoma Spring Fair. In 2001, a volunteer group took over the show and incorporated as the Oklahoma Youth Expo.

OYE is the largest youth event in the state of Oklahoma, bringing in over 7,000 exhibitors. Since 2002, OYE has provided $2.1 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 Oklahoma students.

Lights_DavisThis year, there are 16,375 animals entered in OYE, with 9,500 of those being hogs. Hogs are the quickest growing part of the show, with entries up 1,500 head this year. 210 animals will be sold in the premium sale on the last day of the show.

Over $50,000 in premiums and over $1 million in the premium sale will be awarded to the exhibitors this year. There will also be over $250,000 in scholarships given out.

The success of OYE is highly dependent upon its volunteers. Tyler Norvell, Executive Director says, “We have over 100 volunteers and without them we would have no show, no ifs, ands or buts about it.” If you’re interested in volunteering your time with the show, Tyler says the best way is to reach out to the show office or become involved in organizations like the Diamond Hats or the Sirloin Club.

The youth that exhibit at OYE have found ways to give back to the state and community through donations. Several years ago a program was started that gave students the option to donate their animals to a local food bank. The first year there were a few animals donated and this year nearly 100 head are expected to be donated.

schovanec_SOCIIOklahoma State University has a strong presence at the show. OSU Day at OYE will be Wednesday, March 18. This event brings in many of the departments and clubs from the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources to play games with kids and show what the college has to offer.

OSU juniors and seniors enrolled in the Oklahoma Agriculture Leadership Encounter (OALE) program work at OYE throughout the entire show.

“OALE was started to go and get the best and brightest out of OSU’s College of Agriculture and teach them more about agriculture and ag policy not only in our state but also on a national and worldwide perspective,” Norvell said. “We tour a different part of our state each month and then go to Washington DC each April with the group of 10 students. Then in the summer we take an International trip to a different country each year. I am proud to say I am an alumni of the class for ’05-’06.”

Sale of Champions 2The future of the youth expo in Oklahoma should be a bright one. It’s hard to imagine that the show could get any bigger and better than it already is, but the OYE staff are always looking for ways to improve on previous years.

“I would say I hope we continue to grow but I am not sure how we could do that,” Norvell said.  “We push the state fairgrounds to their capacity due to the number of animals we have so it might be tough to grow much more.  However from a sponsorship standpoint we have been very blessed growing the premium sale from $300,000 to over $1 million over the past decade.”

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