How we got started
Mr. Walter Gerlach was a founding director of the John Marshall FFA Booster Club. He and his wife, Ruby, had three children, Brad, Rod, and Leslie. All three children participated in showing livestock and were actively involved in the John Marshall FFA. The Gerlach family was very involved in the Helotes Youth Community. Walter’s father, Otto, realizing the love of baseball in the area allowed the Helotes Little League to use the site west of our show grounds for a place for Helotes youth to play organized baseball. The Helotes Little League has since moved but his generosity allowed the Helotes Little League to become a premier youth baseball and softball organization in the San Antonio area.
Walter and Ruby also saw a need for the youth of the Helotes and Northside ISD community to show livestock. So in 1973, the Gerlach family provided a site just around the corner from the little league for the John Marshall Livestock Show. With the help from countless volunteers and donations, the inaugural John Marshall Livestock Show was held in January
of 1974, forty-five years ago. A few years later, wanting to pay tribute to the man and family who made it all possible, the Board of Directors in 1981 changed the name of the John Marshall Stock Show to the “Walter Gerlach Greater Northwest Livestock Show and Sale”. At the time, other livestock shows were being established and the Board also wanted the name to reflect the area of Bexar County the show represented.
In 2006, Rod and Leslie Gerlach needed to sell the land due to urban development on Babcock Road. In honor of their father and his contributions to the youth in our community, they made it possible for the Gerlach Stock Show to purchase the land at a reasonable cost. This past summer, we made our final payment and the land and barns are now fully owned by the Walter Gerlach Livestock Show.
Over the years, the Gerlach Show and Sale has provided over $16 million in scholarship aid to the youth of our community. More importantly, the show itself promotes the traditional values of family, volunteerism, hard work, teamwork, and leadership through agriculture that our country and community holds dear. The memories and love of this great event held
for one week each year is why people keep coming back and giving back to something so meaningful in their own lives. While our world and country has seen much change over the past 45 years, the Walter Gerlach Livestock Show allows our youth to be part of a rich history of traditional values that has made our show “The Best Little Show in Texas”.
So what’s in a name..A LOT!!!!
How it all began as told by Charles Vickery
Back in the late sixties, as John Marshall HS was starting to grow and urbanize, the young farmers organization of the FFA suggested that we form a booster club to help the students in ag. In those days, as Marshall was growing, we had a lot of kids that showed in the San Antonio Stock Show and Houston Stock Show. In fact, more kids from Marshall showed at these shows than any other FFA chapters in Bexar County and the surrounding area.
Just like today, the FFA and 4H students showed at the Bexar County Stock Show too. It was the only show other than San Antonio and Houston our kids could show in. But back then, the Bexar County Show did not have an auction, so our directors tried to convince them to have an auction because the kids that didn’t show at San Antonio needed a place to sell their animals too. It didn’t happen. So at one of our booster club meetings, someone said “if Bexar County does not want to have a sale, then let’s have our own show and sale”! So we started organizing in the late sixties. The booster club kept getting bigger and bigger as the Marshall community grew. The biggest question was, where are we going to do this? Walter Gerlach said, “I’ll donate the land for the show”. Bill Knaggs said, “I know where we can get a lot of pipe”. (All the pipe in the barns was donated by a local oil company). We rented an 18 wheeler, went down to Dilley and picked up the pipe. Calvin Galm said, “I have four chicken barns for you to have, but you must tear them down and clean them up”.
So the booster club got with it. One weekend, the booster club and FFA members, 100 strong, tore down the barns and ate Bar-B-Que. From the materials we got from the chicken barns, we built the rafters in the three wings of the show barn and the tin roof. The bleachers were made from chow tables cut in half that we got rom Army Surplus. The ground work and building started in 1973.
The booster club worked on the barns most weekends and the ag students joined in on the weekdays during the summer. We got water from Mr. Gerlach’s well. The material to build the snack bar was donated by membership. We got the tables in the snack bar from Army Surplus. People said we couldn’t do it but it made us work even harder. It took us about two years but the best thing about our first stock show was that we didn’t owe anyone any money. Everything was paid for or donated. This was really a great community effort.
Our First Sale Lot
Everyone was looking at each other. The first animal auctioned was the Grand Champion Steer. Guess who bought it? The John Marshall Booster Club! This could not happen (we had no money)…..now what do we do? Someone suggested that we re-auction it so we did just that. McDonough Bros. bought the steer for $2000. That was the first time anything like that ever happened but everyone seemed happy. The first sale totaled $43,000. It shows what people can do if they really want to. Our students and parents are forever grateful for the ongoing support of the buyers in our community that help make this the
best little stock show in Texas.