The Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate was founded in 1980 by a small group of Fort Worth businessmen led by Don Weeks. The group had attended the prior year’s livestock sale at the Fort Worth Stock Show and recognized that the prices being paid for the animals owned and exhibited by 4-H and FFA youth were below market price. They agreed that these prices were not fairly compensating these young exhibitors for their hard work and dedication over the previous year, and that they deserved better results at the greatest livestock show in the world.
The original Syndicate members went to the sale planning to spend $13,000 on livestock. However, the allure of the kids got the best of them and the group spent $20,000. The next year they established a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, began soliciting friends and business partners for contributions, and in 1981, they bought 59 steers and paid $130,000. The game was on.
The contributions grew at an astounding rate each year. In 1983, James M. “Jim Bob” Norman took on leadership of the Syndicate and preached the mission of providing these young agricultural leaders funding for secondary education. Jim Bob’s term was cut short when he died from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. However, his vision lived on when Frank Neve assumed the Chairmanship and held the first fundraiser to establish the James M. Norman Scholarship Fund. On that night in 1985, the Syndicate raised $76,000 and a fund was established to provide scholarships to FFA and 4-H participants who were pursuing an agricultural or life sciences degree at a Texas college.
Today, the Stock Show Syndicate boasts a membership of more than 100 businessmen who volunteer their time and energy to realize the vision established nearly 40 years ago.
The 2020 sale raised a record $4.749 million for youth exhibitors and the Grand Champion Steer of the Show sold for an all-time high of $300,000.