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Judging begins at Berkeley Co. Youth Fair

August 03, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE
  • Taylor Silkworth, 11, of Hedgesville, W.Va., cuddles Floppy, her 4-month-old French lop rabbit Monday after the bunny won a blue ribbon at the Berkeley County Youth Fair. Floppy won the ribbon for coming in first in the junior class for does in her breed.
Photo by Richard F. Belisle,

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- It was pig pandemonium whenever a new class of hogs entered the judge's ring at the swine judging Monday morning at the 63rd annual Berkeley County Youth Fair.

It was run, root and squeal as the pigs, fresh from the confines of their pens, ran helter-skelter across the big indoor arena.

Their young owners, wielding canes and sticks, had a devil of a time getting their porkers to settle down so Judge Todd Brown could get a good look at them.

Brown of Culpeper, Va., judged 118 pigs Monday in showmanship, market and breeding.

Market hogs weigh in between 225 and 295 pounds, said Candace Wood, swine-judging chairperson.

Pigs add pounds fast. All those judged Monday, except for the breeders, were born after Jan. 1.

"The prime weight (for the judging) is in the 260-pound range," Wood said.

But even at that porky poundage, those pigs could run.

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"I look for muscle to predict how much product each hog will put on the table," Brown said. "Muscle means meat."

He also looks at the youngsters as they move their pigs around the arena. It's important, Brown said, that they keep a constant eye on him, "so they can see what I want them to do," he said.

The showmanship class judges the kids, not their hogs, and how they handle their animals in the ring, Brown said.

Jim Talbott, 17, of Gerrardstown, W.Va., won the showmanship blue ribbon with his hog, "Mr. Pig."

The hogs will be auctioned off Friday beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the indoor arena, Wood said.

Buyers usually pay more for the hogs than they would bring on the market as a way of supporting the youths who raised them, Wood said.

Things were a lot quieter and a lot less pungent in the next building, where 27 breeds of rabbits were being judged in four classes -- junior and senior does and bucks, said Wendy Martz, chairperson for that event.

Taylor Silkworth, 11, of Hedgesville, W.Va., was holding Floppy, a fluffy, gray French lop. Taylor said she got the rabbit from her aunt as a gift.

"She was just a little thing. So little," she said.

Floppy shares her hutch at home with a giant chinchilla rabbit, two English lops and another French lop, Taylor said. She also has four sheep, including three being shown at the fair, two goats, five chickens, a horse, dog and a cat.

Taylor said she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

Floppy came away from Monday's judging with a blue ribbon in her junior doe class.

Winning at the fair is old hat for Taylor.

"I've got tons of blue ribbons at home," she said.

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