Volunteer Spotlight - Gilbert Gerstenberg

A Quiet Force

Close to thirty years ago, a first grade boy entered the world of show pigs.  Along with him, came his grandfather Gilbert Gerstenberg. Anyone who has shown a pig at the HCDJLS has felt his presence, even if they never noticed his work.  Work it is, even though it’s an unpaid position. Gilbert Gerstenberg has acted as a “ring man” for the pig show, carefully ushering in each and every pig for the judge to review, for almost 3 decades.

He has made sure that each kid making their way down the alley to enter to show ring gets to the ring in fine form.  A quick hand with a gate might catch a pig’s leg or startle the animal, which would put that young person’s first interaction with the judge’s eye at risk.  His grandson went on to win the show twice before, so he knows it’s one of the most important jobs in the pig barn. A steady hand on the gate and a calm presence ushering up the next showman ensures that the show runs efficiently and guarantees that each kid gets their chance to shine.  It’s a intense job, but one that this 88 year old doesn't intend to retire from anytime soon.
“Someone asked if he was going to help this year and Dad said, Are you going to have a show?” recalls his son Sammy Gerstenberg.  Gilbert will be at the show. He understands the impact this experience can have on a young person. For years, he and his grandson loaded up in the truck to travel to pig sales all across Texas and Oklahoma looking for the “one”.  The work and dedication that is poured into each project keeps kids busy and focused. The kids- it’s why each and every year, you can count on having Gilbert Gerstenberg working quietly behind the scenes in the pig barn, connecting with familiar faces and quietly making his presence felt.
At the 2018 Show Gilbert was honoured with the Volunteer Appreciation Award that the Clayton Massey Family donated starting in 2017.  This award is selected by members of the Hill Country District Junior Livestock Show and was brought to the show as extension of the original Clayton Massey Memorial Showmanship award that the family started in 2001 to honour their dad and long time Ag teacher.  The showmanship award is awarded to a swine exhibitor with a revolving trophy that their name is added too and in 2010 the family added to they trophy by presenting a buckle as well as a $1,000 scholarship. In 2017 when the family decided to extend the award to a volunteer who gives unselfishly to the show.  Gilbert was the second recipient of this award and received a belt buckle and a gift certificate.  Sue Wood received the first award in 2017.