MINERAL WELLS- Rain dampened some spirits at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition Wednesday, but not the kids who were showing hogs.
Storms rolled through the area Wednesday afternoon and evening. Fair officials said the Country Music Showdown and the ATV Mud Bogs were canceled Wednesday night because of the weather.
No announcements have been made on if and when those events would be rescheduled.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Megan Smith of Belleville gets her pig ready to show Wednesday evening during the Junior Swine Show at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition.
Moving forward Wednesday evening were the Junior Swine Showmanship Show and the Junior Swine Show. They were originally scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., but the weather delayed the start until after 7:30 p.m.
The show is always popular for the kids who raise animals, said JoAnn Peggs, a leader with the Tail Twisters 4-H Club in Gilmer County. Peggs has been a 4-H leader for almost 44 years.
Every year, she has seen kids raise a variety of animals and bring them to the fair to show. The experience is important to each one.
''It has been a great experience for a lot of the kids,'' she said. ''They learn hard work and what it can bring you.
''Whatever they win in there is because of hard work. It is not because someone gave it to them.''
Youths were showing hogs in showmanship in how well they can handle their hogs and how they look, while others were showing the animals on the merits of being livestock.
There were 46 hogs in the show Wednesday, said J.J. Barrett, the Wood County agricultural extention agent.
At the sheep and goat show Tuesday, they had 18 market lambs and 26 goats. Rabbits and poultry were shown Wednesday. Tonight is the Beef shows.
''The junior livestock programs with 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) are always a big part of the fair,'' Barrett said. ''There are a lot of the same families who come out year after year.
''I think our livestock programs here in Wood County, through the WVU Extention, are a great program to build life skills for kids and teach them about responsibility, hard work and record keeping.''
Barrett said the livestock shows are well attended.
The storms did not hamper the enthusiasm of the participants, especially two brothers from Belleville who were struck by lightning a few hours before the show.
Keith and Kyle Townsend, 17 and 19, were putting up an awning on their family's camper near the 4-H building when the lightning struck, with the electricity going through them and into the ground. Both had burns on their feet and blisters but planned to show their hogs after being checked by EMTs.
''We are going to show our hogs. This is our Super Bowl,'' Keith said.
The brothers have been showing hogs since they were 4 years old.
''It is a family tradition,'' Keith said. ''It is what our family has always done. We have raised hogs and cattle. We do it every year and will do it for the rest of our lives.''
The brothers' father, Kevin, serves as a hog chairman to explain the rules to participants, what they will need and what is expected during competition. Their mother, Shelia, is a sheep chairman.
''A lot of kids get into this and have no idea what they are doing,'' Kevin said. ''We educate them, give them the basics and try to guide them in the right direction.
''If they are interested, they will stay in it. Every year, they learn a little bit more, even if they have been doing it for over 40 years. The market is always changing.''
The number of animals being shown this year is down because the feed prices are up. Many people who have raised hogs could not afford to stay in, Kevin said.
''It takes around 600 pounds of feed to get one hog ready to show weight, which is 270-280 pounds,'' he said. To show a hog in Wednesday's show, the animal had to be born after Jan. 1.
The livestock sale will be 2 p.m. Saturday. Peggs was not sure how much animals will go for.
''I know each year, it changes,'' she said. ''The economy, with the way it is, might hurt them or it could make it better for them as well. You never know. It all depends on the buyer.
''They know what they want,'' Peggs said.
Peggs is grateful for the community support for the kids.
''They have a lot of community support down here from Parkersburg, Mineral Wells and other places to come in and buy these children's animals,'' she said. ''The community really supports that down here.
''It is not the same in other places.''