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4-H kids parade pigs at South Florida Fair

Illiana Robbins, center, maneuvers her hog in the show ring at the South Florida Fair hog show and sale in West Palm Beach.
Illiana Robbins, center, maneuvers her hog in the show ring at the South Florida Fair hog show and sale in West Palm Beach.

WEST PALM BEACH — After about 100 days spent raising hogs, five Seminole 4-H’ers showed the results of their hard work during the South Florida Fair hog show and sale Jan. 22-23 in West Palm Beach.

The fair, which was open to all youth in the region, gave Illiana Robbins, Kylie Daum, Atley Driggers, Rylee Smith and Allison Gopher the chance to compete outside the Seminole 4-H club.

Atley competed for the first time in the show ring and took third in her weight class with her 253-pound hog.

“I was responsible for my pig and took good care of him,” said Atley, 8, of Venus, Florida. “The hardest part was walking him. Whenever he started to run, I couldn’t catch him.”

The 4-H youth received their hogs at 3 months old then fed, groomed and walked the animals daily to prepare for the event. The ideal weight for a hog is less than 300 pounds; judges look for minimal fat with good structure and muscle, according to South Florida Fair organizers.

During the show, judges offered competitors showmanship tips, such as only using the utensils – or sticks – to guide hogs while keeping their other hand tucked behind their backs.

Illiana worked with a hog for the first time, which she described as “difficult.” But she said she enjoyed teaching her hog how to walk in the ring. Illiana was inspired to raise a hog because her older sister Edie participated in 4-H several years ago. Illiana’s 236-pound beast took fourth in her weight class.

“I was excited and nervous in the ring,” said Illiana, 10, of Big Cypress. “I didn’t expect it.”

About 175 hopeful youth from around the region waited with their hogs in the Agriplex for their turn in the show ring. A standing-room-only crowd cheered on favorite contestants.

It was Allison’s first time showing at the fair; she is raising another hog to show at the Seminole 4-H Show and Sale in March. The Brighton youth’s 280-pound hog wasn’t the easiest to control, she said, but eventually the hog adjusted to the routine. Although she didn’t place, Allison, 17, went into the ring feeling confident.

Rylee has been raising animals in 4-H for more than half his life; he started in the small animal club at age 7. The now 17-year-old is also raising a hog and a steer for the Seminole 4-H show and spends several hours every day working with his livestock.

“I like earning the money,” said the Moore Haven High School sophomore. “The hardest part is getting to be grand champion, which I did during my first year showing a pig.”

The 4-H hog project also entails learning about the costs of raising hogs and understanding the commitment it takes to see the project to fruition. Youth track expenses in a record book, which helps improve their math skills.

Because it’s a business venture, the 4-H’ers hope to sell their hogs for a profit.

“The whole experience of raising a hog is a lot of fun,” said Kylie, 17, of Venus, Florida. “I’m kind of nervous and it’ll be hard letting go of him. You try not to get attached, but you do.”

The sale took place the following night and all the 4-H’ers sold their hogs.

Tribal buyers included Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr., Brighton Board Rep. Larry Howard, Big Cypress Councilman Cicero Osceola, Big Cypress Board Rep. Joe Frank and Seminole Pride Beef.

 

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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