Paisley Groschke always makes sure she has on her lucky purple lipstick and Layla bracelet before she shows her livestock.

Her good luck charms seem to work, too.

For the second year in a row, the Riesel 10-year-old won first place in the steer show at the McLennan County Junior Livestock Show. After being named grand champion Thursday, her 1,300-pound steer, Havana, fetched $20,000 at Friday night’s auction.

Paisley said she plans to save some of the money for college, and possibly a car for the day she can drive, but will donate the rest to her friend, Layla Evetts, a 5-year-old in Riesel battling cancer.

“I always have my Layla bracelet on,” Paisley said. “We’ve been praying for her.”

Layla was diagnosed last year with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive type of brain tumor that starts in the brain stem. The tumors are most common in children ages 5 to 10, but there is no cure and the survival rate is low, according to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s website.

Paisley’s champion steer last year, Quan, also brought in $20,000 at auction.

“We’re proud of her,” her dad, David Groschke, said.

But it is always difficult for the 10-year-old to part with her animals. That never gets easy, she said.

“I’m kind of sad the show’s over,” Paisley said. “The worst, worst part is when you have to say goodbye to them. That’s when I cry, and I never cry. It’s like losing a kid.”

The fifth-grader at Foster Elementary School teared up after she walked her prized steer back to the pen after the sale. She said she took an interest in showing livestock at an early age, following in the footsteps of her parents.

“Ever since I was a baby, I’ve been in the barn,” she said.

Paisley takes her livestock seriously, too. She wakes up every morning at 6 to feed her livestock before she heads to school.

“I’m an early bird,” she said.

After school, she puts her backpack in the house before going out to the barn to make sure the animals have enough water. Then she spends about an hour washing, brushing and blow-drying the steer before feeding him again and letting him out of the barn to wander freely for the night.

“I give all my dedication to my animals,” Paisley said. “It took a lot of time to have patience with (Havana), and I had to work my butt off to show him.”

Paisley and Havana have been together since April 2018. They were not fast friends, but she gradually gained the steer’s trust.

“They’re like a best friend to you,” she said. “It’s sad to have to let him go tomorrow, but I’ve had to do it a lot.”

Traditionally, Paisley’s mother, Misty, helps her put on her lucky purple lipstick before the show. It is actually her mother’s lipstick. Paisley said she needs her mother’s help or else she would have lipstick all over her face. Then Paisley steels herself for the show.

“Before I go in, I’m never nervous, because if I’m nervous, then the steer gets nervous and won’t behave,” she said. “I always have a serious look on my face, too. It’s fun, but I take it seriously.”

At the county show, she takes the steer for a big lap and sets him up for a rear view. The judge then looks over the steer before Paisley brings him to the wall, parades the steer around again and shows his profile. All the while, the judge is examining the steer for any structural deficiencies, such as a limp.

Paisley only allows herself to get nervous before the judge picks the top two steers.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” she said.

At the end, the judge spanks the steer’s rear and says, “You’ll be champion steer!” That’s what happened to Havana on Thursday.

Brooke Crum joined the Tribune-Herald as the education reporter in January 2019. She has worked for the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri, Abilene Reporter-News, Beaumont Enterprise and the Port Arthur News. Crum graduated from TCU in Fort Worth.

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