WUFT News

Family Lends Show Animals To Underprivileged Students At Alachua County Fair

By on October 29th, 2013

Alachua County fair cowsTom Massagee reclined on a bale of hay as fair goers wandered in and out of his exhibit.

Some pushed dollar bills into his hand in exchange for a cup of animal feed, and others asked questions about the 50 animals on display at the Alachua County Fair on Thursday.

Massagee didn’t mind. After all, he has more than one hundred farm animals — including cows, goats, sheep, pigs, Polish chickens, geese and rabbits on his Archer farm — proof that he enjoys his generations-old hobby.

“The Alachua County Fair allows us to come in and show them, and a lot of children of Alachua County get to see animals, not just zoo animals, but real farm animals,” he said.

In its third year at the Alachua County Youth Fair, the Massagee family not only hopes to educate others about agriculture, but also to attract those who might be interested in their program.

Massagee’s charity doesn’t stop at the annual fair, where he and his family get no kickback for participating. The fair is also a way for Massagee, 49, and his wife, Kim, 48, to advertise a family tradition of lending show animals to students who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

All three of the couple’s children, now 25, 24 and 21, grew up showing animals in local competitions, part of Florida’s Future Farmers of America. As their children got older, so did their cattle. Now, the family lets students who are unable to pay for their own animal use theirs.

“It’s a family thing,” he said.

In 15 years of service, Massagee estimates the family has sponsored up to 500 students.

This year, the Massagees are looking to expand their charity to handicap students who are interested in showing off their animals. The family has sponsored disabled students in competition before, but transportation to the events always pose an issue in rural Alachua County.

Owning beef or dairy cattle for show doesn’t come easy. Kim Massagee said each student must learn all about the animal, and then also give a helping hand in the maintenance. Students also must raise money for the animals hay and feed.

“It’s a full day’s job in here, cleaning the pens and feeding and watering,” Massagee said.

Massagee is head of the Archer Trailblazers, a 4-H Club part of the country’s largest youth development organization. In 20 years, the Trailblazers have grown to 60 active members. About 12 of those turn to the Massagees for assistance.

Jodi Mikell, a 16-year-old junior at Santa Fe High School, switched to the Trailblazers last year because the group was more community-oriented.

Being raised by parents who grew up showing cows, Mikell said it was “just natural” to join a 4-H Club in high school.

Mikell herself has benefited from the Massegee’s charity. She’s shown their beef and dairy cattle in competition and in return, she’s helped with the maintenance of the family’s pigs and cows.

“They have always been a part of the community,” she said.


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Luke Watkins, the 28-year-old partner of Black Hog Farms, is working toward creating a weekly farmers market along the St. Johns River in Palatka. The Saturday market will feature local farmers, musicians, artists and food trucks.

Local Businessperson Plans Farmers Market For Palatka

While Palatka’s government hopes to attract visitors to their area with the riverfront development project, a local business owner has his own idea for bringing in more people.
Luke Watkins, whose family operates Black Hog Farm, envisions a weekly farmers market that goes beyond fresh produce. Watkins said he hopes to create a smaller version of Jacksonville’s Riverside Arts Market by including local artists, musicians and food trucks in his market.


Robert Yard performs a song for a toddler using a Lakota love flute at the Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival in Cedar Key, Florida. Yard held impromptu music lessons throughout the day for patrons that were curious about playing an instrument. (Photo by Sydnei Cartwright)

Patrons and Artists Pack Cedar Key for 51st Annual Fine Arts Festival

Cedar Key held its 51st annual Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival this past Saturday and Sunday, and experienced a large turnout from supporting counties and out-of-state visitors. The Festival showcased a number of different arts including jewelry, photography, wood making, and mixed media.


A group of 'dirty kids' fly a sign on the corner of SE 1st St and SE 2nd Pl while one patches up a jacket and another plays guitar on Jan. 23, 2015 in Gainesville​. Photo by Andrea Sarcos/WUFT News

‘Home-Free’ Squatters Find Community In Gainesville

An abandoned house in Gainesville became a home for a group of individuals that call themselves “dirty kids.” The dirty kids feel that they are different from homeless people.


IMG_8377

Chicken House Fire Kills 24,000 Chicks

Chickens die in a chicken house fire at Saavedra Farms on Wednesday night.


featured

Gainesville Family First To Win The Michelle Park Family Recreation Scholarship

The Garrity family is the first family to receive the Michelle Park Family Recreation Scholarship from the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department. The scholarship is valued at $1,500 and was created for families to engage in recreational and cultural activities for free.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments