The crowd gathered early Tuesday at The Great Frederick Fair to get a good seat for the fair’s 4-H/FFA Market Hog Show.
Judge Matt Nott, who raises about 25 sows on his Ohio farm, waited at the side of the ring at the Middletown Valley Bank Arena for the first contestants to enter. Nott said he’s been judging hogs for about 17 years.
He said he would be looking for hogs that best represent their categories, with stout features and heavy structures.
“They need to look like a show hog,” he said.
Avery Pollock, 11, of Walkersville, guided Chris P. Bacon, her 7-month-old barrow, around the ring.
It is her third year showing hogs at the fair, which she started doing because her cousin was in 4-H and her grandfather owns a farm, she said.
She trained Chris for the ring by taking him for walks twice a day, picking a route and guiding him along with the small whip that handlers use to direct the pigs.
Raising and training hogs helps you learn responsibility, having to feed, provide water and take care of them, Avery said.
Responsibility for taking care of another living thing is just one of the values that raising and showing hogs can teach, said Colby Ferguson, director of government relations for the Maryland Farm Bureau.
His daughter Mickinzi, 16, had several hogs in Tuesday’s show, including the second-place reserve champion.
The show’s grand champion belonged to Austin Nusbaum, of Keymar.
Raising the animals also teaches work ethic, commitment and learning how to deal with disappointment when your animal doesn’t win, Colby Ferguson said.
The $300 to $400 needed to feed a pig over the roughly six months it takes to raise them also helps kids learn the value of money, he said.
Tuesday marked Mickinzi’s 10th and final year of showing hogs at the fair. She is preparing for college, where she’d like to study animal and feed nutrition.
She likes the activity because you get to travel and have friends all over, she said.
Her medium-weight barrow Rico took first place in his category. She said she liked Rico’s bone structure and muscle form.
The week before the fair can be stressful with washing the animal, clipping their coat, and making sure their skin is in good shape for the judges, she said.
Summer is a busy time in general, she said.
She usually wakes up around 6:30 a.m. and finishes with her work around the barn by about 12:30 p.m.
“So basically I don’t have a life in the summer,” she joked.