As many know, last week was the 25th Anniversary of the World Pork Expo, which I made the trip up from Kansas City to attend. While the Expo is known for its PORK Academy and business seminars, numerous pork products, and over 400 exhibitors from across the globe, what has also risen in popularity is the Expo's Junior National Show.
This is following a national trend. I'll admit my background is fairly limited. It wasn't until l lived in eastern Iowa, near Washington County (known as "hog central" by those who live there) that I became much more exposed to the swine side of livestock shows. In recent years, show pigs have become more popular among youth in 4H and FFA, both in Iowa and across the U.S.
The Junior National Show is no exception. Since it started in 2003 with 120 hogs, the show is now ranked among the premier youth shows in the U.S. This year's show, hosted by the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred set a record with 1,600 pigs exhibited by 678 juniors from 26 states.
A national trend
In all 50 states, the National Swine Junior Association has grown to over 13,000 members since it started in 2000. These members are active in shows throughought the U.S., like the Western Regional in Modesto, California, the Summer Spectacular in Louisville, Kentucky, the Southwest Regional in Chickasha, Oklahoma, and the Barrow Classic in Austin, Minnesota. "We really started out with one national event - our Summer Spectacular in July," notes National Swine Registry CEO Mike Paul.
Show pigs are a project that can introduce youth to raising pork with fairly limited resources and facilities, while giving parents time to spend with their children. "It makes a great family activity," Paul says. "It's also a life learning experience to be responsible and care for your animal."
More information is available at the National Swine Registry website.