MINERAL WELLS - Wednesday evening's heat did not dampen the spirits of the youth showing hogs during the Junior Swine Showmanship Show and the Junior Swine Show at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition.
Temperatures were reaching into the mid-80s and above, but the youth still brought around 60 market hogs to be shown at the livestock barn. Crowds braved the heat to see the youth present their animals.
Youths, representing area 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America chapters, showed hogs in showmanship, with the judges looking at how well the youth handled their hogs and how they look, said J.J. Barrett, WVU Extension Agriculture agent for Wood County.
Keith Townsend shows his Hampshire Cross hog during the Junior Swine Showmanship Show Wednesday at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)
''They work them so the judge can look at them,'' he said.
Participants have a cane/rod they use to control and guide the animal to present it before the judge. Judges look at the animal, its condition and how well it is cared for. Control of the animal is an important part of showing.
Other youth were showing the animals on the merits of being livestock.
The hogs were divided into weight classes up to 300 pounds, Barrett said.
''The judges look to see if the hog is finished,'' he said. ''Since this is a market class, all of these pigs will be going to slaughter and the judges will be looking for muscling, the loins and the cuts in the back.
''The hams will be the most valuable cuts for thickness, muscling and structural correctness.''
To show a hog in Wednesday's show, the animal had to be born after Jan. 1.
Kamran Lockhart, 10, of Vienna was showing his Hampshire/Yorkshire crossbred hog, Dino. This is his second year of showing hogs.
He enjoys showing his hog.
''I enjoy the time with the animals,'' he said.
He had family who showed rabbits and he came over to the barn and got interest in raising hogs.
Lockhart has had Dino since March. The hog weighs around 280 pounds.
''We have to walk them all the time and try to make them look good,'' he said. ''We have to brush them and make sure ticks don't get on them.
''It is really hard to keep him perfectly clean all the time and try to make them listen to you.''
Keith and Kyle Townsend, 18 and 20, of Townsend Livestock of Belleville have been showing hogs since they were 4 years old.
With the breeding cycles, they had their current hogs around Jan. 21. Keith is showing a Hampshire Cross hog while Kyle is showing a Duroc hog. This will be Kyle's last show as he will age out of the fair's junior shows at 21.
''This is his last year and he is finishing out with a Duroc and I will take a Hamp,'' Keith said. ''In my last year, I will show a Duroc.
''That is what we started with when we were 4 years old and we are going to finish out with them.''
The Townsend brothers were both struck by lightning during last year's fair while putting up an awning on their family's camper. At the time, they suffered burns on their feet and blisters as well as pain.
They still experience some pain at times and other problems with their knees and so on. However, they are thankful they survived.
''We are lucky to be alive,'' Kyle said.
The brothers were never big in playing sports, but they have always enjoyed bringing animals to show at the fair.
''We have raised animals,'' Keith said. ''This is our Super Bowl. This is where we come to shine.
''This is the one week every year that we get to break out our toys and bring our best.''
Raising and showing animals is a tradition for their family.
''Our grandpa did it, our dad did it and now we are doing it,'' Keith said.
The brothers were not sure what their hogs will go for at sale, but Keith is guessing some could get 60 cents a pound for an average butcher hog. Kyle said they are showing show hogs, which are more valuable than the butcher hogs with some fetching around more than $2 a pound.
Keith once saw a 6-week-old hog sell for $1,300.
''Hog prices are up right now,'' Kyle said. ''It is a good market to be in if you can afford it.''
The 4-H/FFA Jr. Livestock Sale will be held Saturday, starting at noon, at the Cattle Barn.
Although this is Kyle's last show, he isn't going anywhere and wants to pass on what he has learned.
''All of these little kids running around here, I was there at one time,'' he said. ''I enjoy it and I will still be here for years to come seeing kids where I started out at. Someone has to teach them.''
Keith said raising hogs takes work and dedication. People cannot skimp when it comes to quality.
''You get what you put into it,'' he said. ''If you only put 10 minutes a day into it, you aren't going to get anything out of it.
''If you put five hours a day into it, you are going to get everything in the world out of it.''
Today's fair schedule:
* 9 a.m., Junior Dairy Goat Showmanship and Show, livestock area.
* 10 a.m., Junior Rabbit Showmanship and Open Beef Registration, livestock area.
* 1 p.m., Pretty Baby Contest.
* 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Granpa Cratchet Show.
* 5:30 p.m., Pet Parade.
* 9 p.m., Taylor Sams on main stage.