Competitive yes, but livestock showing's ultimately about fun

Dane Libby, 11, of Oneida guides his pig through the arena during swine judging at the Knox County Fair in Knoxville.

Young people from Knox and surrounding counties competed for titles with their best swine in the show ring during the July 31 junior division Gilt Show at the Knox County Fair, Knoxville.

"It gets pretty competitive sometimes," said Andrew Erickson, 18, of Oneida. "People put a lot of money in and don't want to see it go to waste."

There are three classes for gilts: light, medium and heavy; feeding plans are nevertheless essential.

"I mainly have to feed it then take her out and walk around," said Kyron Stone, 15, of Wataga. "It's all in the feeding."

In addition to feeding the gilts, contestants must make sure their swine are spotless.

"You just have to get the dirt and mud off," said Hannah Libby, 15, of Oneida.

Shine enhancers are used for the gilts' bodies, according to Erickson.

One of the more challenging aspects of gilt-showing is keeping the pig's head up for the judges, said 12-year-old Blake Ryner of Alexis.

"(It) makes them look better," he said.

Though Ryner has been competing for two years, this year was his first time winning first place for his gilt in the mediumweight class.

"I was really happy," he said.

To Libby, the best part of being involved in the fair is having fun, interacting with others and being with the pigs.

Erickson had a similar perspective.

"I'm a big farm kid," he said. "I love all the animal stuff."

In addition, Erickson enjoys representing his community at the fair.

"It's the county I live in," he said. "I like supporting it."