With all the glitz and glamour of the wonderful activities at the annual Cache County Fair & Rodeo, it’s easy to overlook the livestock. Pigs, chickens, cows, lambs, and their owners flock in the hundreds each year to show their stuff, all hoping to go home with the top prize. Many who enter their animals are middle-aged veterans, but more often than not the owners are pint size. Just like Katie Ann Erickson, a 12-year old who entered her pig Larraine for the running. Judged on shape, form, and even the tastiness of its bacon, Katie and Larraine will compete today and tomorrow against swine as large as 290 pounds. Most would be nervous, but in her fifth year of swine showing, she’s feeling confident. “I’m not too worried,” she said. Chatting happily with her friend Abby Davis, who entered a lamb, they playfully argue which animal is more work. “Definitely the pig!” said Katie. “You have to check its weight, you got to worm it, you got to feed it all the time and check, make sure the food’s okay and you got to make sure they get lots of exercise,” she ticks off. “We walk it around and we get, let’s see, well there’s a lot of things that I can’t really name!” Abby, 13, patiently waits her turn and explains why she likes lambs. She too is in her fifth year of competition and points out preparing livestock for competition is no cakewalk. “We started walking them in May and we try to walk them once or twice a day,” said Abby. In addition to the physical activity of the animal, grooming, clipping, and maintenance is all part of the deal. “It’s a lot of hard work and dedication.” “The first class is [called] market and they judge on how much muscle it has and how good it looks,” Davis explains. The second area of judgment all livestock compete in is showmanship. How well the animal reacts and cooperates with you decides your fate at the podium. For some, the real motivation to the months of hard work beforehand is the monetary rewards that follow. After competing commences all animals are put on Saturday’s auction block. The bigger the spender, the happier they are. Others enjoy the most ‘awarding’ phase of the competition. “Award ceremony is great,” said 16-year old Jeremy Gardner. The third time competitor hopes his steer, Mortimer, will be fortunate enough to bring home a number one spot at the award ceremony. “[I’m] always looking for a prize.” Shayla Robbins, the Reserve Grand Champion in swine showmanship two years before is hoping for recurring success. “I just really wanna show my Hampshire really well,” said the Mountain Crest Senior. “He [the pig] weighed in at 230 and the minimum is 230 so I’m gonna be one of the smallest pigs.” When asked why people should visit the livestock this year, Robbins humorously answered, “They need to come check out the animals ’cause that’s what’s going in your belly!”
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