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Busiest Place in the Hog Barn

Busiest Place in the Hog Barn
Maybe it's the show ring for livestock people, but it's the back of the barn for others.

There was such a crowd standing around that it was hard to get a peek at the animals. The 90-degree F plus heat didn't seem to dissuade people, even moms and dads with young kids, from standing in line and pushing in to see the free attraction.

No, we're not talking about the 4-H and open class livestock shows that have been underway since the fair started. There were good crowds for those, but many in the audience were either 4-H families with someone showing in the ring, or livestock people with an interest in the show.

The real action for city-dwellers was in the northwest corner of the building, where the world's largest boar and champion sow and litter are kept for the entire fair. The largest boar contest is such a big deal they even have a ceremony made around the weighing of the huge pigs.

Everyone seems to want to see the massive creatures. Let's just hope they realize they're not at a zoo. And that although these are displays meant for fun, much of what goes on in the swine barn is serious business. The pigs that pass through there will become pork chops, bacon and sausage, or else the mothers of pigs that will end up as bacon and sausage, to feed people who live in town.

Next to the biggest boar, it was next hardest to get a peek at the champion sow and litter. That pen, actually a double-pen with two fans going, was the biggest hit for young kids. Moms had to worry about their kids not sticking in an arm or finger for a pig to lick or chew on.

All pigs are cute at that stage, someone once said. It's when they grow up that the problem begins. Whoever said that must have had four and five-year olds in mind. They crowded in to see the cute baby Berkshires. If my counting was right, there was about 11 of them running around the pen. It didn't take them long to figure out that the fans, placed low at their levels, made for some of the most comfortable conditions in the barn.

Some true livestock men may think those exhibits are just jokes. They need to reexamine their attitudes toward self-promotion and communication with the public. The people who buy the meat but don't raise it were crowded around those pens in back, not the show rings. Their image of pork for the next 12 months will come from what they say there, not from who won grand-champion barrow.

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