Makenzie Thigpen competed in the Angelina County Fair last year with her hog ‘Queen”(pictured). This year, she’ll be competing with another hog, ‘Smokey’, at 8 am, Friday, March 24.
Friday morning, March 24th at 8 am in the pavilion of the George H Henderson Exposition Center, Makenzie Thigpen will be competing against 73 other exhibitors in the market hog show. It is the Angelina County Fair and Makenzie has been preparing for months.
Makenzie is an eighth grader at Central Jr High and is active in the Central 4-H club as well as Central FFA. Her family includes her mom and dad, Leticia and Jeriod Thigpen. She has a sister and a brother, Haily and Cason. Makenzie has worked hard to help her sister show her hog this year. Haily has epilepsy and other special needs. Younger brother Cason is too young to compete in the regular youth competition but will show Makenzie’s hog in the Pee-Wee show on Saturday, March 25 at 11 am.
This is Makenzie’s second year to show a hog. She says, “I heard the stories from my mom and dad about their experiences showing livestock. We went to the ACF pig show for one of my cousins and I became interested and wanted to get involved.”
When asked why she chose to show a pig, Makenzie said, “My mom showed pigs in high school, and I thought it would be something I would enjoy also. Last year (my first year) was extremely hard and I didn’t know if I wanted to do it again. As soon as I walked into that show ring, I knew I wanted to do it again because being in the show ring made all those all-nighters, early mornings, late nights and countless hours in the barn trying to get my pig to eat worth it.”
Pigs raised for this year’s show were entered and received an ear tag in December. From that point until the hog show on Friday morning, March 24, families have been carefully feeding and raising their project.
Exhibitors usually select their animals when the pigs are 8 to 10 weeks old and weigh from 40 to 80 pounds. The challenge is to try to predict what that feeder pig will look like at market weight, which is about 250 pounds or 6 months of age.
In addition to a hog project, Makenzie says she will be baking “my Nanny’s delicious apple cake for the FCS this year and plan to become an ambassador next year.”
Once at home, pigs are given prime attention. The most important nutrient is clean water. Checking the water is a daily task. Nutrients and feed intake are monitored closely and there is lots of competition among feed companies to provide the best blended feed to raise a champion.
Makenzie says her hardest part is, “Having to say goodbye to my best friend. I have poured countless hours into making my pig better each day and the goodbye is by far the hardest.”
Exhibitors will practice walking them with a “bat” or “whip” which they use to tap on the shoulders to gently direct which way the hogs will walk in the show ring.
Hogs may weigh no less than 230 lbs. and no more than 280 lbs. at the official weigh-in. Entries that fail to meet these weights will be disqualified.
The Angelina County Fair allows exhibitors to show either a barrow (castrated male) or gilt (young female). If you watch the show, you will notice that gilts are heavily favored in the competition and, as such, are shown by most exhibitors.
Her mom, Leticia, says, “Showing in the county Fair was one of my fondest memories in high school. I’d like for her to make those memories also. I’d like her to make friendships built off shared common interest that extend way past the show ring. I’d like her to take pride in something that she has raised and worked hard conditioning to get to the show ring. I’d like for her to become a better version of herself by focusing on making her hogs better than the day before.” Makenzie’s father showed chickens, rabbits and goats in Angelina County while her mom showed pigs and rabbits in Nacogdoches County.
Her mom states, “I’d love for her to gain a better sense of the agricultural community. Learn important values and expand her interest in agriculture. I hope she learns in everything she does that hard work pays off. Learn to win and lose gracefully and with a loss to figure out how to come back better next year. How to guide younger kids to the same passion she carries for her pigs.”
Leticia adds, “I’d like for her to understand the importance of sportsmanship. To learn patience and be considerate to her animals and the others showing and their livestock. The importance of consistency and attention to detail. To continue to learn how to handle real life situations by her resilience and perseverance.”
After the judge determines his placing, only the top 52 hogs will be sold at auction starting at 4 pm on Saturday, March 25.
Looking to the competition, Makenzie states. “I hope to accomplish being a better showman. I also hope to make more friends and inspire possible future showers.”
Her mom wraps it up by stating, “Livestock showing is no joke. It is hard work, but it will teach your child so many life lessons. I have watched my daughter grow so much in just the two years we have shown. It has been an amazing transformation. Hard work pays off.”
For more information about this year’s Fair, go to www.angelinacountyfair.com.