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YLS: A bittersweet end to county fair

Keegan Gieswein gets ready to sell his market swine Charlotte Sunday.

This year is going to be a bit harder to say goodbye to his pig, Dustin Maul admitted as he and younger brother, 11-year-old Owen, completed their final chores before the Youth Livestock Show began at the Campbell County Fair Sunday.

Every year, the county fair concludes with the Youth Livestock Sale where community members and business owners pay top dollar to buy the animals of the 4-H and FFA participants who have worked hard for months to get their tend to their animals and get them competition worthy for fair.

The brothers have been competing and selling their swine in the market for the past few years but this year is a little harder because they both have really good pigs. And fat ones to boot.

13-year-old Dustin Maul (center) and little brother Owen, 11, finish up their morning chores before selling their market swine in the Youth Livestock Market sale Sunday as mom Mandy tags along.

Their secret feed formula is clearly doing the trick as both boys’ swine weighed in at well over 300 pounds, the heaviest out of all the swine this year. Owen’s Peter Porker weighed in at 340 pounds while Dustin’s Gary, named so from the character in Angry Birds Movie 2, came in at a whopping 352 pounds.

To make weight to be eligible for sale, a swine must weigh between 220 – 280 pounds. Therefore, whoever buys the Maul’s pigs this year will be getting on heck of a deal, mom Mandy Maul noted. Though that’s pretty much a given, she said, given the community’s generosity and the fact that the market animals tend to go for well over the average price.

“They take great care of these kids,” Mandy said. “Everyone is super supportive.”

A lot of work has gone into getting their swine to this point, the boys said, including feeding them and caring for them since they were babies, cleaning and filling in the pigs’ watering hole that required quite a bit of shoveling and water to keep them cool this summer. Both pigs were great to work with, the boys noted, which makes it a little harder to say goodbye though they are getting used to it.

“Last year my pig was mean, so it was easier,” Owen said. “But in the end, you don’t them that much yet.”

The money helps, they said, most of which gets saved for college. Otherwise, some gets donated to the Family Life Church and then the boys get a portion to spend at camp and fair. Last year, the boys pooled their money with their two older brothers, Johnathon and Levi, to buy a pool for their backyard.

“That was a good investment,” Dustin said with a grin.

Both he and Owen will eventually show steers like their older brothers, but they have to grow into it, they said. Their younger brother, 4-year-old Wyatt, is still biding his time before he follows in his brothers’ footsteps.

Where some kids expressed a hesitancy about saying goodbye to the animals that they’ve worked with for the past seven or so months, the Olsen girls expressed no sentimentality when it came to selling their swine that day.

“They’re goners,” 12-year-old Courtney said while her younger sister, Kiley, 10, grinned.

They come from a ranching family, Courtney explained, and she got used to saying goodbye to animals a long time ago.

Like the Maul brothers, the Olsens have been working with their pigs for months to get them ready for fair. This year, Courtney’s pig Crabby Patty, named so by her young cousins in honor of the character of Sponge Bob Square Pants notoriety, weighed in at 261 pounds. Kiley’s swine, Wildfire Girl, weighed 221 pounds, barely squeaking by the cutoff point.

Sisters Courtney and Kylie Olsen are preparing their swine for the Youth Livestock Sale Sunday.

Wildfire Girl earned her named after first having a whip put on her at which point she went “wild,” Kiley explained, earning her name. Despite her relatively low weight, Wildfire Girl earned third in market for her excellent form that entails having a flat back, square hips, and good thighs and shoulders.

Neither placed in the top three in showmanship this year, but they’re hoping to do better next year and will put in my work and practice, they said.

Kiley also shows lambs, too, but might reconsider that next year as she said it was a bit much work for her.

Keegan Gieswein wasn’t exactly pleased to have to say goodbye to his 229-pound pig Charlotte but knows it’s just part of the process. This is his second year entering a swine, and he likes pretty much everything about it including building Charlotte’s pen and show ring.

It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but he’s getting used to it, he said.

Meanwhile, 13-year-old Tryce Isenberger lounged on a fence as he got ready to take his swine to the market. His pig Bert weighed 303 pounds, which he said was due to their own secret mix of feed. Tyrce, who is the youngest of three brothers, has been showing swine for the past six years. He got into it from his older brothers and uncle.

Tryce Isenberger (middle) takes a break with mom Holly and the family’s ranch hand Zeb Goodrich prior to the Youth Livestock Sale Sunday at the Campbell County Fair.

There’s a lot he likes about the process in general, he said, but really likes working with them on showmanship in the ring. The more practice you put in, he said, the better they do.

He’s going to spend his sale money to buy more pigs and feed, he said, and plans to follow in his family’s footsteps and become a cattle and sheep rancher.

It’s always a little sad to see his swine be sold and the fair end, he said, but there’s always next year.