Friday, August 5, 2011

County Fair--Part 3

Today we went to the pig judging! Who knew there were so many ways to judge a pig...production, shoulders, feet, length, tightness/looseness...and probably a few other criteria. Taken out of the pig arena, I know what each of those words mean, but frankly, I have no clue if a pig looks like it’s a good production unit? Or if it's loose along the back? Then there are the varieties of pigs...I’m sure that most 4H pig folks knew exactly what the judge was talking about.

We’ve seen our little friend walk his pig so I expected the pigs to walk calmly into the arena and strut their piggy-ness...but I did not expect to see six to eight 250+ pound pigs walking in the arena at the same time. It was more like a pig free for all with their respective kids trying their best to keep their pig calm, and away from the edges of the arena. Of course, the pigs headed straight for the edges of the arena. When that happened, their minders needed to prod, lead, tap, pat or poke their pigs toward the correct location.

All the while, the judge walks the arena and looks at each pig according to his specific set of criteria. After a few minutes of semi-organized pig walking, he picks up the microphone and makes his announcement as to which pig wins  first thru sixth place for that weight class. There were 11 weight classes, ranging from 225 pounds to 283 pounds! The kids ranged in age from 9 to 17.

It was rather delightful to see teenagers managing a pig. I could not imagine some city kids even wanting to get near a pig, let alone raise one from a tiny “weiner” to a full grown hog!

I don’t know if the judge was fair or not, as I could not truly determine if a pig had the right shape belly or was loose enough. Some kids won, some kids lost...and all the kids took it like adults! Good for them!

After the pigs were judged for what we considered genetic characteristics that could  not be trained into or out of the pig, the kids were judged on showmanship! This time the kids were placed in one of 3 age groups. I have no idea how the kids were rated on showmanship. The judge asked each participant a set of questions and then looked at how well they walked their pigs. To me it seemed like an out and out flirting contest with the judge. The kids smiled and managed their pigs at the same time.  In the end, winners were chosen in each of 3 age classes...senior, intermediate and junior.

The last event was for the peewees or kids under 7. It’s truly amazing and wonderful to see little people weighing in at less that 50 pounds trying to manage a 250+ pound pig! And, they did it. The judge picked one of the little guys as winner and the event was over. The little guy below was too young for the peewees, but look at him...he all dressed up with his hat, jeans, boots and spurs! He’ll be ready next time.

The kids who are working with 4H are learning so much. The parents are doing a good job too. The parents are doing more than helping their child raise a pig...they are teaching their children some important lessons in life: Not everyone is going to win; Life is not fair; Do your best and don’t give up; Think of others before you think of yourself; Be polite; Smile; The list goes on and on! Hats off to 4H and to the kids and their parents who make it work so well.

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