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Cash Cow: III Forks places record bid for top steer at the State Fair of Texas

The 2015 State Fair of Texas Scholarship Program had another successful Youth Livestock Auction, with the Grand Champion Steer, RFD, shown by 15-year-old Laurel Kelley of Yaokum, Texas auctioned to III Forks for a record-breaking $130,000. Laurel takes home $30,000 from the winning bid, with the remaining funds go towards the State Fair Scholarship Program. This is the third consecutive year III Forks has purchased the Grand Champion Steer.

Coming from a long line of Texas ranchers, John D. Harkey, Jr., CEO of Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc. which owns III Forks, grew up in rural West Texas, and says the purchase comes from a passion to support agricultural education.

Harkey and III Forks Executive Chef Chris Vogeli placed the winning bid. Vogeli commented, “We couldn’t be prouder to write the check for this record selling price, because the money is providing scholarships and education programs that enrich the lives of young Texans.”

Pictured: Laurel Kelly and RFD (Grand Champion Steer) - Photo credit: Kathy Tran

Pictured: Laurel Kelly and RFD (Grand Champion Steer) - Photo credit: Kathy Tran

Established in 1992, the State Fair of Texas Scholarship Program has awarded approximately $20 million to Texas youth. The program is open to eligible high school students from around the state who participate in State Fair livestock shows and to outstanding students attending five Fair Park-area high schools in Dallas: Lincoln, James Madison, North Dallas, Woodrow Wilson and the Irma L. Rangel YWL School.

Thousands of kids who take part in the livestock shows at the fair each year have grown up raising animals, as have dozens of the business sponsors who, like Harkey, have a personal commitment to support the continuance of agricultural education.

“It is so inspiring to watch the young people who are growing up on Texas family farms and ranches, which are the backbone of America’s superior food supply. It takes commitment, tenacity and very hard work to raise a championship steer. Through this program, Texas youth learn valuable lessons about the importance of raising quality livestock. III Forks and Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc. (CRO) are proud to support individuals like Laurel, as well as  build the State Fair of Texas Scholarship Program,” said Harkey.

For years, education has been the primary mission of the Youth Livestock Auction Committee at the State Fair of Texas.  Now in its 67th year, the Auction Committee has raised millions of dollars for the Youth Scholarship Program thanks to local business owners who are the unsung heroes. Because of their support each student receives a $5,000 grant, renewable in $1,250 annual increments, if the student maintains a 3.0 GPA, toward their college degree at a Texas university and/or community college.

“We are proud of our Youth Livestock Auction and Scholarship Program here at the State Fair of Texas and grateful to Dallas businesses, like III Forks who make it possible,” said State Fair of Texas President, Mitchell Glieber. “Great things happen when our community leaders come together and share the same values of agriculture and education as the fair.”

Applications for graduating high school seniors are accepted from January 1 - March 1 each year. Information is posted in December at: