Barrow show brings home the bacon

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 3, 2001

Young area hog producers got together this weekend to show judges just how good the future of hog production can look.

Saturday, February 03, 2001

Young area hog producers got together this weekend to show judges just how good the future of hog production can look.

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About 150 exhibitors registered for the 57th-annual Minnesota State Spring Barrow Show, slightly less than last year’s registration. The junior class registered 296 pigs, and the open class registered around 100 pigs, said Show President Daryl Mattson.

The show is for junior competitors, he said. About 80 percent of the entrants are members of Future Farmers of America (FFA) or 4-H clubs. Most are from nearby chapters like Northwood, Buffalo Center, St. Ansgar, Austin, and Albert Lea, but some come from as far away as Des Moines, Iowa or the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Exhibitors must be younger than 21 years old, Mattson said. Most are in high school, but some in the open classes are considerably younger.

&uot;We’ve had some 4-year-olds that are exhibiting,&uot; he said. &uot;Well, their dad helps them. It can be kind of scary with those big pigs.&uot;

Competitors usually bring three or four pigs to show, but can bring as many as seven, he said.

Bjorn and Chris Olson, brothers from the Glenville FFA chapter both competed in this year’s event.

Bjorn, a senior at Glenville-Emmons, has entered the barrow show for four years. He showed six pigs this year, and was pleased with his results.

&uot;I got a sixth place, a 10th place, and I got called back for showmanship,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m happy because I’m home grown – I bred the sows and I raised them myself.&uot;

Chris, a junior at Glenville-Emmons, entered three pigs in the competition but didn’t have the same success as his brother.

&uot;I got ran out all three times,&uot; he said.

Chris wasn’t too disappointed about his results – he was impressed with the quality of hogs at the show.

The hogs are better this year than they have ever been, Mattson said. Because of advances in breeding technology, any producer can afford the best stock.

&uot;There’s so much more available now than there used to be,&uot; he said.

No competitor will get rich off the $10 prizes awarded, but that’s not the point of the show, Mattson said.

&uot;These chapters kind of have a competition among themselves,&uot; Mattson said. &uot;We’ve got a premiere exhibitor (award), it’s kind of like


Chapters get points when members win, he said. At the end of the show, the chapter with the most points wins the premiere exhibitor award, and a banner for the year.

Besides a little friendly competition, exhibitors learn a lot from participating in the barrow show, Mattson said. They meet people in the hog industry, and see where their stock stands relative to other producers.

&uot;They enjoy it,&uot; Mattson said. &uot;These judging contests help them find out what we’re looking for in the industry.&uot;

Chris entered Saturday’s judging contest in addition to showing his pigs. He learned the basics of judging in an agriculture class at school, and has entered the contest for three years. He also competes at a barrow show in Austin.

He agreed that Judging helps prepare him for a future in hog production.

&uot;You can kind of see what you think and what the judge thinks together,&uot; he said. &uot;Then kind of find out what the difference is.&uot;

Bjorn and Chris keep three sows, five gilts and 30 feeder pigs at their grandparent’s farm. After they finish college, they hope to go into hog production together.

Their grandparents used to raise hogs, and the brothers always liked the business, Chris said.

&uot;I like hog production,&uot; Bjorn said. &uot;I like raising hogs. If you do it right, it’s good money. And it gives you a sense of pride that you can raise something yourself.&uot;

Most of the exhibitors will stay involved in agriculture after they graduate, Mattson said. Some will be hog producers, but many more will go into agribusiness, or agricultural education.

The Minnesota State Spring Barrow Show is funded through donations and sponsorships, Mattson said. Around 50 volunteers organize and run the show.

&uot;If we couldn’t get volunteers, we couldn’t run very well,&uot; he said.

The barrow show regular board has more than 30 school teachers, farmers, bankers, and other industry people as members, he said. The nine-member executive board organizes the annual event.

Gordy Toenges, co-show manager along with Claire Drescher, is in charge of the physical set-up of the show. This year, with the help of volunteers, he set the show up in only two days.

&uot;Sentence to Serve is a lot of help,&uot; he said.

Toenges has been on the barrow show board for more than 25 years, and says not much has changed since he started.

&uot;Kids are kids,&uot; he said. &uot;There’s still eight chapters, a lot of names I recognize.&uot;

&uot;To be honest, it really hasn’t changed all that much,&uot; he said.

The biggest change in the show has been the steady decline of commercial booths, Toenges said.

&uot;One year we had 48 commercial booths in here,&uot; he said. &uot;This year we have hardly any.&uot;

Most of the businesses that used to participate were small, locally run operations that are no longer in business, Toenges said.

Barrow shows themselves are not as common as they used to be.

&uot;It gets less and less every year,&uot; Mattson said. &uot;There are some big ones, like in Kansas City, they pay big bucks if you win an award, but we’re not after that.&uot;

&uot;You’ve got to do this for fun,&uot; he said.