Spotlight hogs: State Spring Barrow Show hits 74 years

Published 11:18 pm Friday, February 2, 2018

Just before they went to market, 120 not-so-little piggies were shown at this year’s State Spring Barrow Show at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds on Thursday and Friday.

Show president Daryl Mattson said there were 47 exhibitors involved in the spring show, which he said provides education for children on all things pig.

Hogs were judged based on soundness, structure, quality of meat and carcass traits, Mattson said.

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This happened on what Mattson called “game day” — Friday’s judging competition.

Forty-seven participants and 120 pigs turned up for the 2018 Spring Barrow Show at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds on Thursday and Friday. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

Macy Mattson, 10, has been showing pigs for three years. This year, she competed in the pen of three, the truck lot and individual barrow events.

Mattson’s father raises pigs and her siblings also show; they had six children in their family participating, and around 10 pigs between them. Her sister Mallory Mattson, 22, said participating means you’re always learning something new.

“You have to work with the pigs,” Macy Mattson said.

Plus, for Macy Mattson, working with pigs means a chance to break into bathtime.

“It’s fun to wash and to clean them,” she said.

However, Mallory Mattson said the weather provides more of a challenge than state fair time. Partially, because you can’t walk pigs in snowbanks.

“The pigs don’t like to cooperate in the cold,” Mallory Mattson said.

Nonetheless, University of Minnesota student Jenni Fidler said she saw “a lot of quality animals” during the judging competition she participated in.

Macy Mattson is one of six children in her family who was participating in the 2018 Barrow Show. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

Also Friday morning, participant Kahle Weber showed three in the pen of three event in his second year at the barrow show.

“I thought it went pretty good,” he said.

For Weber, the State Barrow Show is a bit of a family affair; his brother, Cullen, competed in the youth open, and he has several cousins, uncles and other family members who are also around for the show.

“It’s just fun to see my cousins and everybody,” he said.

Weber’s father, Micah Weber, said he also showed pigs when he was in high school. They raise pigs as a hobby and hauled some over for the show from northwest Iowa. Between everyone in the family, Micah Weber estimated they’ll be showing 13 pigs.

The family is a literal representation of what Mattson said keeps contestants coming back to show pigs at the Barrow Show for 74 years.

“It’s in their blood,” Mattson said.

Spring Barrow Show participant Cullen Weber watches during the judging contest while someone in the arena affixes orange tape to the pig’s back to distinguish it from other pigs in the arena. – Sarah Kocher/Albert Lea Tribune

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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