Wild hogs entertain at fair

4-H club members guide their pigs around the barnyard during hog confirmation judging at the Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik, Alaska, Friday Aug. 16, 2013. Photo by Kaylee Osowski/Peninsula Clarion

“WHEE. WHEE,” Puddles cried repeatedly as she ran, causing the small crowd to laugh.

The hog’s pink snout wrinkled when she squealed, as she trotted ahead of her handler.

But 13-year-old 4-H member Keira Stroh, of Kenai, kept her composure, giggling occasionally as she chased her rogue pig during judging.

Using a bright green stick and keeping one hand behind her back, Keira tried to guide the animal around the fenced barnyard at the Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik Friday morning

The dozen or so other 4-Hers competing in the mid-range weight class for confirmation — the judging of the hogs themselves — concentrated on walking them around the arena and keeping them from fighting with other hogs.

A handful of adults with large green plywood boards stepped in and separated the hogs when they head-butted and bit at one another.

At 239 pounds, six-month-old Puddles was at the low end of her 231-to-260-pound weight class, and unlike most of the hogs in her class, she wasn’t just another all-pink hog. A large black spot surrounded by smaller dots decorated her back. Her face was also freckled with black spots, giving her a distinct look.

Also unlike some of the pigs in the yard, Puddles wasn’t a fighter. Keira said most of her hogs aren’t. She said Puddles was “freaked out” being around that many strange hogs, and that’s probably why she was running and squealing.

During the confirmation competition, Keira said the judge is looking at the hogs’ muscle tone, size and coat.

Keira has been raising and showing hogs as a 4-Her for five years.

“It’s really fun,” Keira said.

This was 11-year-old Anna Shelden’s second year showing a hog at the fair. She said her hog, Mike, is not the best when people are around.

“He was running and running; then he stopped, and he wouldn’t move,” she said.

Anna knew he was going to be an interesting hog to show because the 260-pound swine wouldn’t let her touch him in his pen before the fair, she said.

Even though it was Anna’s second year showing hogs, she has been raising the animals for four years and has been in 4-H that long as well.

One of the most important things when competing is to keep the hog clean in the dirt arena, she said. And Mike did stay clean — until the end of the confirmation judging when he dove his snout into the ground.

“You never know what to expect with pigs,” Anna said.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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