GENEVA – Growler pigs and their owners put their best foot forward here on Saturday in the FFA and 4-H swine competitions at the Fillmore County Fair.
After more than 3.5 hours of judging the pigs and youngsters in the ring, Morning Shows judge Douglas Smith praised the youngsters and their animals.
“It was a pleasure to have the invitation to come and sort the pork show,” Smith said. “There is a deep quality from top to bottom, really, with very good pigs and very good exhibitors. It was a fun time. I was blessed by God with the opportunity to sort cattle, and it was a fun time working with you this morning. »
Smith is an associate professor of animal science and agricultural education at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis. He spent an hour judging the FFA pig show before starting Saturday’s 4-H competition.
Under his watchful eye, youngsters holding a switch in one hand and often a paintbrush in the other entered the show ring one by one, allowing Smith a first long look at each animal and each contestant a chance to make a positive first impression on the judge before joining the drive.
In staging, it is the human who is evaluated on their ability to showcase desirable characteristics of an animal in the show ring. Then the judge evaluates each class of pigs one by one before finally naming the top winners.
Commenting on the show folks on Saturday, Smith reminded them to keep their animals “drive” through the ring, with their heads held high and their noses to the ground as much as possible, to give the judge a good look at the hog’s elongated frame.
Other key points of staging require exhibitors to keep their animals between themselves and the judge at all times and to repeatedly make eye contact with the judge.
“He always gives you the right look the moment you look at him,” Smith commented, praising one of Saturday’s exhibitors.
Showmanship also involves in-ring conversations between the judge and the individual contestants. Often, this is an opportunity for the judge to ask the exhibitor one or two questions to test his knowledge of the animal or pig farming in general. Saturday’s show included such interactions, but Smith kept them brief.
During the pig judging portion of the show, Smith would sort the animals in his mind, dividing them by ribbon placement and selecting class and division winners based on his longtime knowledge of pig production.
Shape, dimension, depth, muscularity, functionality and “look” were among the keywords the judge used to explain his placements at the end of each class.
While no pig is a perfect specimen, Smith said judging animals in a show is a process of “putting the pieces together” to determine which are the most sought after in the marketplace.
Brandy VanDeWalle, a youth development educator from Nebraska Extension in Fillmore and Clay counties, held fairs in her two counties one-on-one over the weekend.
She said the Geneva fair was going well, with good volunteers helping out, rain to help bring bigger crowds to the fairgrounds and attendance figures “about the same as last year”. .
“I don’t think we’ve quite rebounded from COVID, but that’s across the board,” she said of a drop in turnout after the pandemic hit in 2020.
Saturday was a banner day for Adam Alfs, a recent Shickley High School graduate who brought a total of seven pigs to the fair, competing in FFA and 4-H contests.
In the end, Alfs won FFA Showman Champion, Gilt and Market Gilt Breeding Champion, Market Gilt Reserve Champion, and Market Pig Reserve.
On the 4-H side, he was Senior Showman Champion and had Breeding Reserve Champion, Market Champion, Market Champion, and Overall Market Hog Champion.
While Alfs is now out of high school and in his final year of 4-H competition, he continues to compete in hog shows throughout the Midwest, following in the footsteps of his older brother, John, and his sister. eldest, Regan. He is the youngest of Bryan and Kari Jo Alfs’ three children.
Alfs said he has been competing in pig shows for years and is on the road at a show every weekend in a season that begins in late April. He was recently named the 2022 Nebraska Jackpot Series Overall Exhibitor Market Champion.
He said he enjoys showing pigs alongside friends he has made from afar.
“In the ring, you fight,” he said. “You fight among friends.”
He works with several different breeds of pigs in the ring, including Duroc, Chester and Poland China.
“I like crosses, and the Durocs are starting to grow on me,” he laughed. “Each race has a different attitude, really.”
“They’re so sweet and get along great,” he said of the in-ring crossovers. “I have a good connection with the Crusaders.”
John Alfs graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln last winter and is now back home with the family business, Alfs Implement and Well Drilling. Regan Alfs is studying at university to become a professor of agricultural education.
Adam plans to study agricultural management and production at Southeast Community College and then return to Fillmore County.
“I plan to return to the family farm and the well drilling business started by my great-grandfather,” he said.
Kari Jo Alfs said that although she and Bryan can’t follow their children to many pig shows, they are proud of all they have accomplished and grateful for all they have learned through their pig efforts. while going to school.
“I really feel like the kids learned a lot of responsibility,” she said. “There are a lot of mornings and late evenings. And learning how to interview and talk to people is huge.
As a volleyball teacher and coach for Bruning-Davenport/Shickley, Alfs sees how much students learn and grow through 4-H and FFA programs. She is happy that her own children took the opportunity to get involved and developed strong relationships in the process.
“The contacts my children have are amazing,” she said. “They’re making a lot of connections for what they’re going to do in the future.”
Champion: Ashley Schlegel
Champion: Ashley Schlegel