What did you do over the holiday weekend? Cookout? Swimming at the lake? Sitting in a pig barn in Kentucky? Oh, wait. That last one was me.
While springtime is for auctions and piglets, summertime on our Farmersville farm means traveling to state fairs and national pig shows.
We just returned from the National Swine Registry’s Summer Type Conference and National Junior Swine Spectacular in Louisville. This is just a fancy way of saying we loaded some of our best purebred hogs on our trailer and headed to Kentucky for five days of pig-related competition.
So what happens at a pig show? This is my husband’s version of an industry trade show. He picks out his best pigs–looking for pigs that are muscular, among other qualities. At the show, each pig is washed up and put on display in a pen, usually bedded with wood shavings. The event organizers bring in a judge, usually another pig farmer who is held in high regard, who evaluates the pigs in a show ring. Breeding stock pigs, like the kind we show, are in classes based on age and breed.
For pros like my husband, the event culminates in big business–the auction of breeding stock pigs to other farmers. The better your pig does in the show, the earlier in the auction your pig sells.
In addition to showing their gilts (young female pigs), all three of our kids participated in a number of youth activities designed to develop young people’s knowledge of the swine industry. At the event, there was a pig poster contest, pig photo contest, pig skillathon (a test of swine knowledge) and a judging contest where young people learned how to evaluate and rank hogs like a judge.
The event in Louisville is one of the biggest of the summer, along with the World Pork Expo (yes, this is a real thing), which we skipped this year. Our summer will include multiple hog-showing trips to the Ohio State Fair, Indiana State Fair and conclude with the Montgomery County Fair in Dayton.
So while most people won’t choose to spend their summer vacation time bathing pigs or unloading trailers, we do bring home a lot of family memories, hard-earned ribbons and, yes, crap on our shoes.