For over fifty years, the Chachere family has been a part of the Dayton agricultural community. First, with Mr. LJ Chachere as an agriculture teacher at Dayton High School, and then as a member of the Dayton ISD School Board. Mr. Chachere’s legacy continues today, with his children and grandchildren continuing to be active members of the Dayton community agriculture business. If you are from southeast Texas, you certainly know Chachere Vet Clinic or Chachere Feed Store and all of the involvement they do for our community and the different ag organizations in this area and the state.
Shortly after Mr. Chachere’s death in 2016, his children and grandchildren wanted to create a scholarship to honor his legacy. With that, the LJ Chachere Memorial Show started taking shape. The planning of the first show actually began the week after he passed away. The family knew what they wanted to do and that was create something that Mr. Chachere was passionate about--agriculture and youth. They also knew that they wanted this show to be early in the show season so it would allow both the students and their animals an opportunity to be in the show ring before they headed off to the majors: Houston, Ft. Worth, or San Antonio shows.
That first show in 2017 had 116 entries and it was limited to only cattle. This year’s show has grown to 289 entries and now includes cattle, lamb, goat, and swine entries. This year, participants came from as far north as Kennard, as far south as Angleton, west from Magnolia, and as far east as Lake Charles, Louisiana. There is a great story that comes with the young man from Lake Charles as his family lost everything in the hurricanes, and they were looking for a show to help bring some normalcy during these crazy times. The young man, Gene Natali, brought three cattle entries and ended up winning Reserve Grand Champion Heifer. Stories like Gene’s are the reason why FFA and local 4H clubs are so important in our nation’s communities. There were over 40 communities represented by students who are extremely dedicated to the care of their animals and to helping each other be successful. The 4-H clubs and FFA groups teach so many great life skills, but one of the most important, in my opinion, is accountability. These young people learn how to care for something other than themselves in feeding and grooming their animals. They are accountable to an animal that depends on them, and in turn, their success depends on them doing a great job of taking care of their animal.
Part of the draw to the community is not only the ability to see our local and surrounding young people competing and showing their animals, but it is also the opportunity to give back in buying items from the silent auction. There are a lot of great items to bid on, most of them locally made and donated to the LJ Chachere Show. One of the top prizes each year is a custom fire pit donated by Coastal Ag Supply. And, this year, the Dayton ISD Ag teachers donated a “Bronco” fire pit, which was a big hit. Local businesses are a huge part of the success of the LJ Chachere Youth Show, with sponsors assisting in the purchases of prizes for the contestants as well as other costs to put on the show. This year’s sponsors include Milam Discount Tires, Dayton Young Farmers, Merck, Patterson Veterinary Supply, WOWCO, Farm Bureau, Buddy’s Grass Farm, and Zoetis, with many other donations given by families and individuals.
Concessions this year were provided by McDonald’s and the Casa family. McDonald’s donated all of the food for the show and donated all of the sales from the food back to the show. This is an incredible, generous gesture.
You can’t have a show without judges, and this year’s judges were Ryon Cox, Corey Taylor and Darin Wyllie. These men donated their fees back to the show and demonstrated the kind of character that you find in people wanting to help our youth.
The ultimate goal for the LJ Chachere Memorial Show is to provide scholarships for graduating seniors from both Dayton High School and surrounding areas. Last year, the show was able to award $12,000 in scholarships for graduating seniors and, in the first four years, have provided $31,000 in scholarship money. The legacy of LJ Chachere will remain strong, and the shows will continue to grow and allow for more young farmers, ag-minded youth, and future ranchers to learn and grow, which is what Mr. LJ Chachere worked for his entire life.