WILMINGTON — A pig start-up program at the Clinton County Fair is doing what it was meant to do — getting youth to try their first swine project.
At Thursday’s Market Hog Show, the start-up program had grown to two classes of participants — a total of 15 exhibitors.
The program was started in memory of Austin Johannes, who had just turned 14 when he died in 2009. His grandmother Donna Johannes said Thursday that pig projects were his favorite fair project, though she does not recall that Austin ever won in the hog barn.
“He loved his pigs. He had several other projects, but the pigs were the most important to him,” said Donna.
Austin was fond of spotted pigs, and also liked the Hereford, she said.
“We’re very happy this year to have two classes of participants because so many wanted to be in it [the pig start-up program],” Donna said.
Some of them probably would not have been able to afford to do a swine project apart from the start-up program’s sponsors, including breeders and a local ag business.
Randy Gerber, who is affiliated with the Market Hog Show, said 70 percent of the participants have come back with a project to the Hog Barn at least once after being part of the start-up program, which began around 2010.
“It’s really worked well,” Gerber said Thursday near the Hog Barn show ring.
Participants do not have to be just starting 4-H, he said. The program is not age-related, but rather is intended to attract youth to try a first-time swine project.
They can get their pig at a reduced rate, and then if they so choose they use the money they receive at the Junior Fair livestock sales to be financially able to take part in a second pig project, noted Gerber.
Sponsoring breeders help with the original discount and Buckley Bros. helps with feed, straw and supplies.
The breeders include Clint High Showpigs, Bryce Bean, Bentley Showpigs, Johnson Durocs, Crosley Showpigs, Dave Armstrong, Sharrett Family Farms, John Cooper Family, and Parks Livestock Farm.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.