James M. Raymond: Weaving A Story of Heritage
A laugh, a handshake and a twinkle in his eye.  Every year at the end of January, James M. Raymond enters the barn at the Hill Country District Junior Livestock Show for one of his favorite days of the year.  Sure, the location and facilities have changed vastly over the years, but the reason for this yearly reunion of friends remains exactly the same… supporting the youth of our communities through livestock projects.  “I love auction day. I enjoy seeing my old friends and making a run against them for the purchase of the animals. It’s always fun to see who gets to buy each animal.”, reflects Mr. Raymond while sitting in his office.  A quick glance around his gracious office shows a man who respects heritage and history. Impressive western landscape oil paintings intermingle with simple framed photographs of Mr. Raymond in the buyer’s ring with area kids and their animals, participating in the HCDJLS.  Anyone familiar with the stock show world quickly recognizes the logo on a trophy tucked in the corner of his office. It’s the San Antonio Livestock Show and the trophy is for winning the show with a Brangus heifer. You see, Mr. Raymond hasn’t just helped fund the college education of countless area youth through his participation as a buyer at the HCDJLS, he and his family have lived the “livestock show life” as well.
“I bought a ranch on Hwy 41 and Tom Pollard asked me to go to a sale in Dripping Springs. Well, we bought some Brangus cattle and put them on the ranch. My son, James F. showed and then his brother Michael started showing heifers and steers.”,  Mr. Raymond recalls the beginning of their show days. “We didn’t know what we were doing, but we were doing it together and everyone helped each other. At one of our first shows, we are all outside the barn getting the cattle ready and we are watching our friend’s every move, the Lefeiste's, and just copying what they are doing.  Well, a local photographer comes around and takes pictures of us and put them all over the paper. Everyone thought we were cattle experts, when really we were just trying to figure out what to do.”, laughs Mr. Raymond. It’s a story that recalls warm memories that solidified friendships.
“We’d go to major shows with others in the community and haul each other’s animals and kids.  Showing kept us together and it unified us. It taught the kids how to do things and be responsible. The kids loved meeting friends every year at the shows and the whole experience instilled a sense of duty, honor and achievement in all of those kids.”
Every story and memory prompts another laugh and another memory and strangers quickly become friends through shared experiences of livestock projects and shows.  It’s easy to see why the HCDJLS draws families in. These stories spread across generations, cross multiple paths of people and weave together a legacy of something very special in our community.  “I love helping the HCDJLS because you cross paths with these kids and their parents who work in our community providing services. It’s my way of saying thanks.”
   James Raymond with the Althaus Girls at the 2018 Auction
 Left to Right Craig Althaus, Mattie Lastovica and James Raymond at the 2014 Auction