Turning Loss into Legacy
You don’t have to look hard in the stock show barn to see strangers reaching out and helping fellow exhibitors. There are countless stories of exhibitors pitching in to assist when a fellow competitor has two animals in the same class or becomes ill or injured and is unable to show. But when tragedy strikes the stock show family pulls together stronger than most can fathom.
Such was the case for the family of Colton Tatsch. Colton was an accomplished showman with a passion to compete that was second to none. He had a presence and intensity in the show ring that could not be ignored, earning him many champion and showmanship awards. Colton was 13 when he passed away last summer in a tragic accident on the family ranch in Harper, Texas. The loss of such a spirited competitor hit hard in his small community and radiated throughout the stock show world to all who knew him and his extended family.
The Colton Tatsch Memorial Scholarship Fund was established soon after the accident. The fund has since sponsored several awards at the local, county and district shows. A scholarship will be awarded to a graduating Harper student in the spring and plans are in the works to establish a Colton Tatsch Memorial Jackpot Show.
Through such a heartbreaking loss, Colton’s father, Thomas, found the strength to continue Colton’s legacy. With no less than 10 market and wether doe goats in the barn and Colton’s younger siblings who are not quite old enough to show, Thomas felt compelled to finish what he and Colton had started. Thus, he turned to some of Colton’s stock show friends and even classmates to finish out the year.
Some of the goats remained in his hometown while others went to friends and an FFA chapter with students who were excited for the opportunity to show a goat. With such strong ties to the stock show community Thomas has continued to attend shows offering advice and assistance to those exhibitors who took on the task of raising and showing Colton’s goats. He loves the competitive nature of stock shows and has been able to see how these goats stood against the competition but along the way he’s had the chance to see the exhibitors win awards and improve their showmanship. The kids all agree that raising and showing Colton’s goats came with a tremendous amount of responsibility and a desire to push harder to earn a ribbon.
Thomas knew the stock show season would be extremely difficult this year yet he has showed up to support everyone who was part of Colton’s stock show life. Colton’s school has their own show every year and Thomas serves on the board of directors. This year the show chose to honor Colton by dedicating the show to him. Although the day was especially hard for Thomas because it was Colton’s favorite show, he felt the love and support from everyone in attendance, especially the exhibitors who all wore shirts in Colton’s honor. Several of Colton’s goats entered the ring on the halter of some of Colton’s friends and classmates, offering a sense of pride for Thomas and all who knew Colton.
As the show year draws to a close for the wether does, six of the exhibitors reunited with Thomas at the San Antonio Livestock Show to show Colton’s goats one more time. Three of them placed in the top ten of their class. The goats will return to the breeding program at the family ranch to produce future show projects. Over the past several months some of the goats earned banners and premiums, but more importantly they provided a way for Colton’s friends to pay tribute to him and helped a father see his son’s legacy continue.