The English Winter Fair held last weekend at the Stafford County Show ground was a strange affair for us first time exhibitors of pigs at a fat stock show.
I had selected pigs that I knew would look good hanging up on the butchers hook, four pairs of pigs in total. A pair of Hampshire pigs, 2 pairs of Saddleback pigs and a pair of Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. It was a first for Oxford Sandy and Blacks to be exhibited at the Winter Fair. As usual my two Grandchildren, Harry and Imogen assisted me. So that must make 5 pairs!
Fat stock pig showing was new to us all. No boards and sticks but just a scoop of food to try to keep the pigs together for the judge to evaluate. I thought other exhibitors were joking when they told me of this new way of showing pigs but not so. You can imagine the chaos when we ran out of food. We eventually finished up with three 4th prize rosettes but outside the prize money in every case. The judge clearly had a different view on the evaluation of these fat stock pigs than I but that’s showing. “The judge is always right on the day.”
However this experience will only add to all the information we can disseminate during the 2012 pig showing weekend in March!!
Sunday was a completely different day with the children having their young handlers competition. Success at last for ‘Team Sutcliffe’ with both Imogen and Harry winning their respective age groups and bringing home their red rosettes and prize money. It was very interesting to see experienced young handlers struggling with untrained pigs (these pigs not being the show stock from this season) going the wrong way round the ring and even letting their pig leave the ring. They must put in hours of training before the summer shows to have their own show pigs behaving so obediently.
The BPA Youth Programme, of which we are one of the sponsors, is going from strength to strength as the pig showing is balanced together with knowledge of pigs, pig stockmanship and manners. It is training the future generation of pig breeders. Thanks must be heaped on Tracy Bretherton and her helpers for all the voluntary effort they all put into this new venture.
Harry and Imogen’s continued success must be based on the many pig keeping courses they attend helping Carole and I. Pig showing is such a friendly atmosphere as now there is approx 20 children of all ages who show pigs regularly with all exhibitors mucking in to ensure they are safe in the ring.
We do encourage both children and adults to attend our pig keeping showing weekend course and to come to the shows around the country to help us show our pigs or for us to help show your pigs.
Next weekend is the last pig keeping course of the year with Christmas to look forward to and the birth of the January show pigs in the New Year.
See you in 2012.