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Fair packed with livestock

  The livestock barn was packed Tuesday night while young 4-H and FFA members tried their best to please the judge as they showed their hogs at the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair.
    One of the most popular attractions at the fair are the livestock shows, said Debra Pease, Statesboro Kiwanis Club member who organizes the livestock events.
    Youth from seven counties including Bulloch are judged on showmanship and the condition of their animals, depending upon the classes they enter, she said.
    Tuesday was the Market Hogs and Breeding Gilts show, but youth show cattle, goats and sheep as well on other nights during the week the fair is in town, she said.
    As the judge watched, the young hog handlers tried to maintain eye contact with him while at the same time keep their hogs moving. Sometimes the animals did not cooperate.
    "This is the Kiwanis class," Pease, said as a handful of handlers and their hogs entered the ring.
    "The club gives them the hogs, commercial market hogs, and they raise them. The only commitment they have is to show the hogs at this show. After that, they own the hogs."
The club donates cattle, goats and lambs as well, she said.
    In the spring the Statesboro Kiwanis Club accepts applications from young citizens interested in showing animals in the fair livestock competitions.  A committee reviews the applications, which include a
"test," Pease said.
    "It's not a right or wrong test," she said. "It is to let them know how much they are going to spend on their own for this project."
    The young people who are chosen to receive an animal must keep a record book on their project animal, she said. "They have to keep up with vet
bills, weight  gain, how much feed they have fed, the deworming program and more."
As Pease spoke, she watched the show in the ring. Judge Jack Walls, a county extension agent from Telfair County, eyed the handlers, taking note of how well they controlled the hogs, how clean and well groomed the hogs were, and how well the handlers kept eye contact with him.
    "The judge asks questions about their project," Pease said.
    The kids get to keep their animals and can show them in other shows, sell them or otherwise, she said. "They belong to them."
    Children as young as four years old entered the ring, their young hogs overpowering them in size. The classes went up to high school seniors.
    Some kids used wooden canes to guide their hogs, while others used stock whips or sticks.  The goal was to make the hog pass back and forth in front of the judge as a reasonable distance, using the cane or whip
to prompt the hogs and keep them from lying down, rooting or fighting, she said.
    After placing the hogs (or the handler, depending upon the class) Walls gave the handlers advice on how to correct mistakes they made, as well as faults and positive traits a hog might have.
    Handlers were judged on how well their stalls were kept as well, Pease said.
    After each class, the handlers prodded the hogs back to their stalls. It was a busy scene as the youth talked excitedly about their wins or discussed reasons why they did not place, and others readied their animals for the next class.
    What is in it for the kids? It depends on the person, it seems.
    "I like hogs," Tyler Joiner, 11, said. The Portal Middle/High School student said her famiy raises hogs, and she enjoys training them and competing.
    She also makes pets out of her hogs.
    "They're really fun to play with," she said. "And I like competing with everybody.
    Her friend Haley Mock, also an 11-year-old from Portal, said it's not the competition that hold charm for her - it's the mud.
    "I like being able to work with the hog and playing in the mud," she said. Her family doesn't raise hogs, but Joiner and another friend whom she
said "are all like sisters," helped stir her interest in the animals.
    The Market Goat show will be held tonight at 7 p.m., and the Market Lamb show will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Pease said.
    Saturday, the Steer and Heifer (cattle) shows will be held at the livestock barn at 3 p.m., she said.

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