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Anyone who does big bidness in Cowtown knows two important rules: Stick your hand out when the city council is writing tax-break checks, and stick your hand into your own pocket to buy some meat on the hoof at the Stock Show every year.

Bidding up some FFA kid’s steer or pig or lamb gives you the right to wear them tall, gaudy boots with your pants tucked in and talk (around the toothpick) about how you’re helpin’ preserve family farms – while also giving you excellent opportunities to rub denim-clad shoulders with the folks who hand out the tax-break money and who know where the next subdivision is going to wipe out another swath of farm and ranchland.

This year, however, sale prices for champion animals failed to continue the past decade’s upward trend. Most prices were at or below last year’s numbers, and the sale price for the champion barrow dropped by more than half. Static doesn’t even know what a barrow is, but it’s too bad that the kid who raised it is seeing his or her expected college fund cut by half. Many observers blamed the homebuilders’ pull-out for the poor showing, given that record numbers of foreclosures can make it tough to justify shelling out $100K for a steer, no matter how purty it is.

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But hey, real estate poormouthing aside, there are some rich new kids on the block in Fort Worth these days. Surely those fine upstanding folks who are pulling fortunes out of the ground in neighborhoods all over this part of the country are putting some of it back into the community, right? Indeed, XTO Energy got into the game and spent $185,000 for the grand champion steer. But other big gas players like Devon and Chesapeake stayed on the sidelines. Chesapeake buys all those TV commercials and billboards and ads on the sides of on buses telling us how gas drilling is beneficial for Cowtown – couldn’t they have ponied up a few thousand for a world-class wether (that’s a goat, Ropers) or a magnificent merino? Baaad form, boys.

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