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Whip in one hand, brush in the other, Riley Ballance was the picture of complete confidence as she drove her black pig around the show ring at the Wilson County Fair.
The 7-year-old second grader from Wilson Christian Academy was among a handful of local children showing livestock at the fair this week.
Riley won first place in her division for all of the hard work she had put in to her pig.
Riley’s big sister, Logan, 11, a WCA sixth grader, is a veteran at competitions for market and showmanship. She had won grand champion market hog in the Wilson County 4-H Livestock Show and Sale in March.
David Grimes Lewis, 6, of Walstonburg, came to the Wilson County Fair and earned third place in his division for his showmanship skills.
“That’s kind of easy for me because I’ve trained with them,” David said. “I have trained with almost all my hogs.”
David is a student at H.B. Sugg Elementary in Farmville.
For Taylor Glover, an 18-year-old from Pikeville, this was her last year of showing pigs.
“I started off with goats, but I have also shown turkeys, but right now I just show pigs and cows,” Glover said. “It’s fun. I have done it for many years.”
All the young competitors look up to Taylor, who helps them fix their hair and prep for the big show.
“They are the next generation,” Taylor said. “I have learned as I have gotten older that there are always young ones watching, so it’s good to be a role model for them.”
“The livestock shows held at the county fair are not technically affiliated with 4-H, but most of our participants are 4-H’ers from Wilson and mostly from surrounding counties,” said Jessica Anderson, livestock agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County.
In addition to the Ballances, Sarah Scott showed pigs. Annah Claire Sullivan, Sloane Hinnant, James and Parker Gardner, Rachel and Jacob Thomason and Charlotte Edwards showed lambs. Liza Sullivan shows goats at 2 p.m. today. Annah Claire Sullivan and four Hinnant siblings, Ross, Kate, Sloane, and Vann, show beef at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
“These youth participate in a circuit where they travel to other county fairs and earn points based on how well they do in showmanship,” Anderson said. “Whoever has the most points at the end of the season wins a belt buckle.”
The awards are given out at the North Carolina State Fair Oct. 17-27 in Raleigh.
In addition to livestock, educational booths put together by 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America chapters from across Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe counties at the Wilson County Fair were judged based on how well they tie in with the fair theme and represent their youth organization. The Small Town Clovers 4-H Club from Wilson County placed first among 4-H clubs and the Southern Nash High FFA won for its booth.