04/29/11 — Junior Livestock Hog Show held Thursday

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Junior Livestock Hog Show held Thursday

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 29, 2011 1:46 PM

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Hog show participant Quinton Rouse, 6, maneuvers his animal around the arena Thursday morning at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. Rouse was entered in the novice division.

Perhaps they were rattled by the possibility of having to flee the ring quickly to avoid the severe weather making its way toward Wayne County.

Or maybe they were stricken by the nerves that can accompany performing in front of a crowd.

But judging by the reaction of those who showed up to take in the Hog Show unfolding at the Wayne County Fairgrounds Thursday morning, the fact that six novice handlers, at one point, couldn't figure out which pig belonged to who, might have merely been a result of their age.

None, after all, was older than 6.

So when Ashtyn Dawson stopped in her tracks and let out a "whoa" when she came across three animals clumped together in a corner, some laughed at how "cute" it was -- rather than gasping at the prospect that breaking eye contact with the judge might have cost her a showmanship ribbon.

And when all six handlers, wearing the same puzzled look, gave chase at once, even the man charged with handing out the prizes chuckled.

"Look at these little fellas," one woman said.

"They don't know whose is whose," a young man replied.

Livestock took center stage again Thursday as showmen in three divisions competed in the Junior Market Hog Show.

And a familiar face took home the coveted Senior Showmanship title.

Less than 24 hours after leading her goat, Guillotine, to glory, 17-year-old Marisa Linton -- referred to by the judge as "the young lady in the pink" -- pocketed another first place ribbon.

But while the Senior and Junior showmen displayed all it takes to impress a judge -- maintaining eye contact and keeping the animal in a position where it can be viewed clearly at all times -- the stars of the morning, judging by the crowds reaction, were the novice handlers.

Height-wise, they had a few inches on their hogs.

But when you watched them try to control just where their particular animal -- if, at that moment, they knew whose was whose -- would go, it was clear who was really in command.

Tyler Norris, at times, looked a bit lost.

And when Ashtyn nearly got pinned in a corner, it took some encouragement from those in the crowd to regain her focus.

Still, despite their lack of experience -- most, if history is any indication of the future, will likely have dozens of chances to improve at shows for years to come -- those little ones certainly gave their audience something that won't soon be forgotten.

"Would you look?" a woman in the crowd said. "Aren't they just too adorable? I'm just tickled to death."