It's Never Too Late to Start Showing

It's Never Too Late to Start Showing

 Derek and Blair at the Kendall County Fairgrounds, Yorkville, IL

Derek and Blair at the Kendall County Fairgrounds, Yorkville, IL

Unlike most people from my small farm town, my family had not lived there for generations. My parents had moved out of the city before I was born, seeking a calmer and more peaceful lifestyle.

Listening to my friends talk about the things they did with their free time naturally raised some questions while growing up. For the longest time, I had no clue why a livestock show was so important that some of the guys thought they could get out of a week of summer basketball practices.

I wanted in.

As I entered high school, I started to understand my friends’ lifestyles a little bit more. They made friends from other towns. Their parents took them out of school to go to the state fair. That seemed like the life for me!

At seventeen, with no animal experience beside my beloved dog, I decided to bite the bullet and ask my friend if I could join her 4-H club. She was a little skeptical, but understood I was seeking a new experience. She spoke with her parents and determined they would provide a place for me to house and raise a pig.

A few weeks later, she invited me to meet - and name - the crossbred barrow her family had picked out for me. Being incredibly mature at sixteen, I decided to name him Sir Piggy. It was the start of a beautiful friendship as I learned to walk and wash Sir Piggy. My definition of chores quickly transitioned from taking the trash out to mixing feed and cleaning pens.

I felt like I had become a part of my friend’s family and the county fair was soon approaching. In the weeks leading up, my friend taught me how to drive Sir Piggy around the ring and make sure the judge saw all his good sides. We loaded all our pigs up on the trailer and brought them out to the barn at the fairgrounds.

The next few days were a whirlwind of nerves and laughter. I could walk Sir Piggy fine when it was just us, but I wasn’t too sure I could manage when there were other pairs in the ring. We had our fair share of stressful moments at the wash rack which typically ended up in a soaked pair of jeans. Thankfully, my friend and her family were always there to help me out and answer all my questions.

Finally, the time for my class had come and before I knew it, I was showing Sir Piggy off to the judge like we had both been training for. The experience was exciting and scary all at once and passed by way too quickly. We ended up with a 5th place ribbon, but as far as I was concerned we were Grand Champions.

 Derek showing Sir Piggy at the Kendall County Fairgrounds, Yorkville, IL

Derek showing Sir Piggy at the Kendall County Fairgrounds, Yorkville, IL

We breezed through showmanship and then the auction was here. It was a bit intimidating having a larger audience watching our every move, but we crushed it and an old family friend ended up with the winning bid. I excitedly went up after to shake his hand and say thank you. The next morning I said my goodbyes as we loaded up Sir Piggy and the others on the trailer for the final time.

I’ll never forget the memory of my first livestock show or the friendships made in the barn. Although I was quite obviously new to showing, everyone I encountered was helpful and patient. I went on to show for one more year. I will always hold dear the kindness and lessons I learned through livestock showing. My experience proved to me why it’s never too late to start showing.

So, what are you waiting for?

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