64 years and counting, Youth Expo Historian has Been to Every Show Since 1951

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- The annual Oklahoma Youth Expo boast more than 7,000 young participants and nearly twice that many animals.

For generations of Oklahoma kids in 4-H and FFA spring break has always meant a trip to the city and what they now call the Youth Expo.

Questions about show history usually go to one place in March.

That's wherever Celeste Rule Nelson happens to be standing.

She works hospitality for the Sirloin CLub these days, but name the job and she's done it all (just short of mucking out stalls) since 1951.

Celeste says, "If I get down in the dumps I can come to this atmosphere and I'll just be buoyed up. I'm good for two or three weeks after this."

The Southwest American Show, as it used to be called, took place at the OKC Stockyards until 1958.

Celeste worked for the Wilson Packing Company.

"I was just the flunky for the show manager," she recalls.

She eventually became office manager for the show, a job she held for thirty years.

Nelson continues, "I love it that I can go out and see third generation kids that I knew their parents and grandparents."

"You probably typed up their entries," remarks a show visitor.

"I did," she smiles.

Garrison Straka had a champion hog showing in 2015. His little brother Gavin had a pretty good hog too.

They and their two sisters can trace their Youth Expo legacy back five generations.

"My great-grandpa showed at OYE," says one of the four children.

Current Expo Executive Director Tyler Norvell is part of five generations here too.

Celeste typed their entries by hand until the early 90's.

After a hundred years, a few slim but many more prosperous, the Oklahoma Youth Expo survives on its legacy and on the families who've kept it together.

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