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July 11, 2014

A pig deal: 4-Hers show swine at fair

4-Hers cooperate to overcome hogs' stubbornness at Cass Co. Fair

Walking from one end of the Cass County Fairgrounds to the other became a practice in flexibility on Thursday afternoon as equipment went up to facilitate the 4-H Swine Show.

A pair of parallel fences ran from the front of the swine barn to the side entrance of the exhibition building, effectively blockading the grounds’ primary east-west route and leaving two-legged visitors with two options: Find a different way around or risk crossing the path of some very unruly pigs.

Unlike many of the animals shown in livestock shows this week at the Cass County 4-H Fair, pigs lack the patience to be shown in the ring. They require an enclosed path to travel from their barn to the show ring without running away — and once in the ring, the stubborn animals demand substantial effort from 4-Hers and adult volunteers alike to remain in the judge’s line of sight.

As spectator and 10-year swine showing alum Jessica Kranz put it, “They’re pretty pig-headed.”

For the families involved in 4-H swine showing, though, the effort involved in controlling the chaos is worthwhile — and even fun.

Recent Caston graduate Megan Fry competed in the swine project for the first time this year after seven years in cattle and other 4-H projects, and she admits she didn’t initially know what to expect.

“With my steer, you can just take him around,” Fry said of her experiences in the show ring, “but with [my pig], you have to follow him and chase after him.”

Despite the hogs’ best efforts to evade wrangling — a task Fry says gets especially messy in the washing process — she felt pride in a good show-day performance no matter the species.

“This is your animal,” Fry said. “You’ve raised him and help him get to where he is. It’s a definite pride thing.”

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