Pictured: Liana Cardena, 8, shows off her lamb "Coco" as she waited for the weigh-in Tuesday night at the fairgrounds. Photo by CHRISTOPHER MAHER

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

As the Jim Wells County Fair prepared to get underway Tuesday night, dozens of parents and students, with a row of lambs by their side, lined up for the annual lamb weigh-in.

Nelson Smithwick, a 12-year-old, seventh-grade student from William Adams Middle School, stood in line at the weigh-in Tuesday, trying to control his two lambs, a male named "Fatso" and a female named "The Skinny One."

This is Smithwick's second year in FFA, and his second year raising lambs. Last year, one of his lambs placed first in the heavyweight division, he said.

"They're really energetic and they run kind of funny, like bunnies," Smithwick said, as he struggled to hold on to the ropes holding both animals. "It's hard to control them sometimes, but they're fun."

Smithwick said his favorite part of caring for the lambs was catching them and feeding them, although sometimes doing either is not very easy.

"When they decide they're going to run, they're going to run."

Liana Cardena, an 8-year- old, third-grade student from Mary R. Garcia Elementary, stood with her lamb, "Coco," waiting for the weigh-in Tuesday night.

Cardena is in just her first year in FFA, and raising a lamb was a new experience for her, she said.

Cardena said she was not sure if she would ever want to take on the responsibility of raising an animal for the fair again, although she said she had enjoyed feeding Coco out of her hand.

"The way it feels on your hand, it tickles," Cardena said, giggling. "It's fun, but it's a lot of work."