Ephrata’s Weaver has grand champion hog

By on August 2, 2017
Madison Weaver shows her grand champion hog. Photo by Philip Gruber

Madison Weaver shows her grand champion hog. Photo by Philip Gruber

Madison Weaver of Ephrata had a great week at the Lebanon County Fair.

Lebanon Area Fair Queen Elizabeth Voight held the banner for Madison Weaver, who sold her grand champion hog to MidAtlantic Farm Credit for $1,600.

“I’ve been showing my whole life,” said Weaver, a senior at Ephrata High School.

Weaver bought her pig from a family friend outside the state.

The Weavers had been thinking about buying from the Michigan breeder for a couple of years, and they finally pulled the trigger this spring.

“I always thought he was a decent pig. I was aiming for the top half of my class, and I had no idea that he would do this well,” Weaver said.

When showing livestock, it’s important to be confident, watch for things you can do differently and recognize you could place anywhere in your class. “It just humbles you,” she said.

Weaver also shows dairy cows, which she said take more work than pigs.

There’s a lot of technique involved in grooming a cow, and they’re just bigger animals.

“I think pigs are a really easy project, and it’s just, you get really attached to them,” Weaver said.

In the Lebanon dairy show, Weaver won a grand champion in the Brown Swiss breed and a reserve champion in the Holstein show.

Now she’s looking ahead to 4-H shows, the All-American Dairy Show, World Dairy Expo and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Next year, she plans to attend Penn State, majoring in animal science and minoring in ag business.

Before the sale, Carl and Margaret Wenger, who started the Wengers of Myerstown equipment dealership, were honored for their years of service to the fair and farm youths.

As the couple stood in a sea of green-shirted 4-H’ers, auctioneer Harry Bachman announced that the Wengers would pay the youths’ 4-H dues this year, as they have in the past.

One of a fair queen’s jobs is holding the champion banners during the livestock sale, but every once in a while a queen gets someone to hold a banner for her.

Voight found herself in that position last week when she sold her reserve champion market hog.

Scott Sechler Jr. and Margo Sechler from poultry company Bell & Evans held the banner for Voight after buying her pig for $2,900.

The July 28 sale capped a whirlwind week of crown and sash wearing for Voight, a senior at Northern Lebanon High School.

But her journey to the champions’ ring started a few months ago, when she and her family drove down to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to pick out pigs.

This is a pretty serious ritual — the drive is seven hours each way, and the family doesn’t work in a trip to the beach — but it’s also a bit of a shot in the dark.

When you are looking at a small piglet, it’s hard to predict whether it will grow into a structurally correct star or a disappointing dud. “You just do the best that you can,” Voight said.

Still, the Voights have confidence in the breeder, a family friend they have been buying from for years.

This year they bought five pigs — two for Voight, two for her brother and an extra one just in case.

Even though it’s hard to know how a pig will turn out, Voight knows what a market-ready pig should look like.

“You want to look for a sound, complete hog, one that’s really thick topped, carries that down through his ham and has a lot of depth of rib,” she said.

Of course, a reserve champion pig also has to be show-ready.

For Voight, that meant training the pig to walk with the whip, a long stick with tassels on the end.

She works with the pigs for 30 minutes a day during the summer.

She gets them used to walking for a long time, so “when they’re in the ring for like 15 minutes, they’re not complaining or going to the gate,” she said.

Voight puts most of her show earnings toward her college fund, except for $50 she keeps as spending money.

Voight plans to go to a college where she can play basketball. Outside of her high school studies, “I play basketball, soccer, I go to church, but I’m mostly in the barn,” she said.

In other results from the sale of champions, Dylan Fessler of Robesonia sold his grand champion steer to Bell & Evans and Fulton Bank for $4,500.

Trent Shott of Newmanstown sold his grand champion market lamb for $2,500 to Sylvia Hoffman of Century 21 Krall Real Estate.

Jared Fessler of Robesonia sold his reserve champion steer for $2,400 to Hoss’s Steak and Sea House.

Jaren Bomgardner of Annville sold the reserve champion market lamb for $2,000 to First Citizens Community Bank of Fredericksburg.

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