Pictured: Tony Garza of Ben Bolt built this cement well piece with the help of his father, Antonio. Photo by CHRISTOPHER MAHER

Vocational projects part of the fair, too

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Not all projects at the Jim Wells County Fair need to be constantly fed, groomed or chased around a pasture. In the Merchant's Building Tuesday, some students began setting up their vocational projects, individual items designed and constructed by students.

Spencer Stallone, 9, and his brother, Jackson, 7, are Orange Grove students who are in their second year in 4-H. This year, the brothers worked together to build a roping dummy in the shape of a steer, made out of PVC pipe. Jackson said the idea to make the roping dummy came out of need, since both boys are learning roping skills.

"We needed a dummy," Spencer agreed. "We were going to buy a store dummy, but we decided to make one instead."

Tony Garza, a 17-year-old senior from Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco High School, built a life-sized wishing well with his father, Antonio Garza.

Tony is a five-year veteran of FFA, and is in his third year of building vocational projects. The Garzas said the well, which has the appearance of stone, was constructed in just four days out of concrete. The father and son team used a wire mesh as a frame on which to pour the concrete, which they colored with paint thinner.

Tony Garza said the hardest part was using a trowel to draw on the design that gives the well a look of stone.

"The hardest part was the design," Garza said. "It was difficult to get ready."

Antonio Garza works as a carpenter, and Tony said he has inherited his father's love of working with wood and other material. The most rewarding part of the construction, Tony said, was building the wooden roof of the well, and seeing the project actually take shape.

"My favorite part was setting the deck up," Tony said. "I enjoy doing the woodwork."