Local youths show swine during judging

Alison Duddles leads her pig around the arena during market and breedstock swine show on Tuesday at the Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair. Wednesday’s schedule includes beef, market dairy and feeder shows, as well as different horse and goat classes. (Pioneer photo/Meghan Gunther-Haas)

Cloverbud twins Logan (front) and Drew Bialik get into place to help guide a pig toward the show ring on Tuesday. (Pioneer photo/Meghan Gunther-Haas)

BIG RAPIDS — Inside the swine barn, 4-H’ers, their families and friends spent Tuesday morning working gates and corralling pigs toward the show arena or their stall during market and breedstock judging at the Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair.

“The kids put in a lot of work to get where they need to go,” said Tracy Pritchard, swine superintendent with Ryan Jernsted. “The kids get placings based on the quality and the time they put into their project.”

Contestants in each age group led their pig around the arena, careful to keep their eyes on judge Mark Berger, and after awarding the top showmen for each class, the grand and reserve champion titles were awarded to Tyler Herzog and Wyatt Fuller, respectively. Groups based on the animal’s market weight were then called to the arena and Logan Walcutt was named the grand champion market swine showman, with Fuller earning the reserve champion position.

“From top to bottom, I thought all these pigs were really good,” Berger said. “I think the community has a lot to be proud of with its young people.”

Local youths worked over the past few months to get their animal ready for Tuesday’s arena, where some 4-H’ers went before the judge for the first time, as Cloverbuds, or the last, as seniors.

As 4-H’ers entered the show ring on Tuesday, they steered their pigs while keeping their eyes on the judge in hopes of earning a grand or reserve champion title. (Pioneer photo/Taylor Fussman)

“The easiest part of swine showmanship is owning the animal in general,” said senior 4-H’er Macy Randall, noting the most difficult part of owning a pig destined for fair is training and showing the animal. “It is a totally different environment for the pigs.”

Randall also shows horses at the fair and said preparing her animals for shows has taught her time management and responsibility. Her advice to her peers just starting out is to keep practicing, keep going and never give up.

Fresh out of his first day in the arena and looking forward to next year, Mason Dishong, 9, was happy to take fourth place in his pig’s weight class on Tuesday. Dishong wanted to show swine because pigs are his favorite farm animals and hopes to show a goat next year.

“It was good today,” he said about showing.

As 4-H’ers and swine barn volunteers work to bring animals to the ring and back to their stall, Connor Lang takes a moment to sit with his pig. (Pioneer photo/Meghan Gunther-Haas)

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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