The End of an Era: My Last Hog Show

The 2010 Kentucky State Fair marks the end of an era for me.

My last time in the ring was to show a daughter of my favorite yorkshire sow.

After 10 years of showing pigs in 4-H and FFA, I’ve finally “aged out.”

Its the last time I’ll compete as a junior exhibitor. The last time I’ll participate in a showmanship contest. The last time I’ll hope for lightening to strike and for my pig to make it to the Sale of Champions.

Its sad, scary and a little surreal.

As I look back on 10 wonderful years, I’m flooded with memories of  victory, defeat, favorite pigs, best friends and proud accomplishments.

The memories I hold most dear, though, are the seemingly insignificant aspects of showing pigs that made it such a life changing experience.

So this post is a tribute. A tribute to all the little things about showing pigs that I’ll always remember.

Things like…

Talking around the dinner table about which boar we’re going to breed our favorite sows to.

Trying to pick out the best pigs only minutes after they’re born and fighting over which of us will claim them.

Talking smack at the first show of the summer, knowing all along that the pigs will change drastically over the two months leading up to the fair.

Shopping with my sisters for the perfect showmanship shirt, searching every store in the mall.

Walking pigs with my dad and siblings, over analyzing everything about each pig.

God blessed me with two little sisters at home and an extra every summer.

Getting dizzy when I stand up after being bent over washing pigs all morning.

The sinking feeling you get when one of your pigs gets sick or injured and you know you’ll be spending as much time as it takes to help them get better.

Playing hairdresser before the show for all my little sisters, both biological and the ones I adopted at hog shows.

My dad quizzing me on possible showmanship questions while I wait in the make up ring.

Feeling my stomach knot up when I realize that I’m one of the last two showmen in the ring, and the adrenaline rush of being named champion.

Choking back the flood of emotions on the many occasions that I didn’t come out on top.

Shaking the hand of the showman that beat me, forgetting that I lost because I was so excited that they won.

After 10 years of rivalry in showmanship, John David ended up winning the final showdown.

The inexplicable joy that you feel on those days that you and your pig are on the same wavelength and show like the perfect team.

Depending on my siblings to be my best friends one minute and my toughest competition the next.

The fun of keeping a rivalry with another showman alive for 10 years.

The pride you feel when a pig you raised wins, a feeling that makes you want to scream with excitement and cry with joy all in one moment.

Being congratulated by other showmen and breeders that you’ve spent years looking up to and realizing that their kind words mean more at the end of the day than any banner.

Discovering that the friends you make in the show ring are more than just friends, they’re family.

Warren Beeler, a personal hero of mine and part of my “show family,” once said, “Don’t let school get in the way of a good education.”

I’m so glad my parents believed in that philosophy.

My favorite pig went on to be one of our best sows.

Showing pigs led me down many different paths and accounted for a lot of my high school absences, but the lessons I learned while in the showring have far outweighed those I ever learned in a classroom.

I know it wasn’t always easy for my parents.

My mom has often said, “My kids are addicted to showpigs and its expensive. But they could be addicted to worse things. Showpigs are cheaper than rehab.”

As I look back on the past 10 years, I can’t imagine who I would be had my parents not invested their time and money into our show project.

I owe them, and the rest of my show family, a tremendous thanks.

I hope one day I can make half the impact on a showman that they’ve made on me.

About Celeste

Celeste grew up on a family beef cattle and show pig farm in Western Kentucky. In addition to farming and life as a restaurant wife, Celeste owns Celeste Communications where she works as a photographer, graphic designer, videographer and consultant. This blog is Celeste's personal soapbox. Any ranting or raving is her own and does not reflect the opinions of any of her clients. All photos and posts are copyrighted property of Celeste Communications.

Comments

The End of an Era: My Last Hog Show — 5 Comments

  1. awesome! i love it! your words in this post are the same feelings that every showman (should) feel at the end of their career. your words almost made me cry…almost! the pictures on the other hand, they got me closer!!! your journalism career will be awesome!

  2. I am going to share this with some of my “show kids” in hopes to inspire them to show or continue to show. Thanks for encouraging young people to be involved in showing!!!

  3. An excellent article Celeste! It is difficult to find the right words to express how very proud we are of you. From that first time your dad allowed you to get in that “ring” with that “oh so large pig” years ago to today….where have the years gone? This has always been a “family activity” for the Laurent family and you, your parents and your siblings can all be very proud of your accomplishments. Now, you must pass on the “show stick” to the next in line and be there to document the Laurent Farm success with your camera….We love you….

  4. Thank you all for your kind comments.
    Hopie, I definitely shed a few tears writing it. Especially going through old photos of all of us!

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