This Little Piggy Went To Market: Louie's Clackamas County fair journey

Tucked away between housing trends rests a large red barn with a pasture out front, enclosed with a white fence. In complete the property is 10 acres, significantly smaller than when it opened in the 1970s. There's a greenhouse, several smaller barns, quite a lot of types of cattle and a small parking enviornment.

regardless of the sweltering warmth of early August, the farm bustled with children tending animals. With below per week to move until the Clackamas County reasonable, students at the North Clackamas Land Lab have been busy getting ready their animals for showtime.

Erika Bergstrom steers her show pig, Louie to the wash stall at the North Clackamas Land Lab. It's one week before the county fair and Louie needs a bath and haircut. 

Erika Bergstrom steers her exhibit pig, Louie to the wash stall at the North Clackamas Land Lab. It's one week before the county fair and Louie needs a bath and haircut. 

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

Gently tapping his stocky, purple body with a skinny whip, sixteen-12 months-old Erika Bergstrom shepherded her pig, Louie, out of his pen within the hog barn. but Louie had different plans in mind: Standing with his ft firmly planted, Louie showed his cussed attitude by using refusing to budge.

seeking to her dad with frustration in her eyes, as if asking what to do next, Bergstrom braced her physique towards the pens on both aspect of her and shoved her weight into the hog's rump until he walked out of the barn, veering right towards a small container.

It changed into recreation time for the Blue Butt pass-bred hog.

At only 8 months historical, Louie weighs 242 pounds. For the previous six months, Bergstrom raised him to compete in national FFA firm market hog and showmanship competitions. After competing within the county reasonable, Bergstrom will continue on together with her agriculture schooling and this little piggy, Louie, will go market.

Erika Bergstrom uses a thin whip to navigate her pig Louie around a field. At the county fair, the pair will compete in market hog and showmanship competitions, both will require Bergstrom to maneuver the hog around a ring. 

Erika Bergstrom uses a thin whip to navigate her pig Louie around a box. on the county fair, the pair will compete in market hog and showmanship competitions, each will require Bergstrom to maneuver the hog around a ring. 

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

"I'll cry. You just get attached. You get attached reasonably a little bit," Bergstrom noted.

for college students like Bergstrom, who aspires to be an agricultural science teacher one day, classes like FFA and 4-H present valuable experiential getting to know alternatives.

Roughly 14 miles from downtown Portland, Oregon, the Land Lab is where Louie lives and Bergstrom learns. Owned through the North Clackamas faculty District, it presents students a palms-on curriculum in agricultural science. all over the college yr, collaborating college students attend class each other day and in doing so, can earn up to 18 faculty credit with Linn-Benton neighborhood faculty. in the summertime, students work with their animals on their personal time, commonly competing in suggests.

lessons encompass every little thing from dealing with quite a lot of livestock, meat judging, genetics, nutrients, company ideas, rudimentary veterinary science and greater.

It's Bergstrom's third yr on the Land Lab and second year competing at the reasonable and she or he became feeling hopeful heading into this yr's competition. "I'm pretty excited to look how we're going to do," she stated.

Her goal: win a coveted purple ribbon and walk in the Parade of Champions.

"We're super excited that children participate, but a few of us are mighty believers that not all and sundry wins in life," stated Kathy Mayfield, an agriculture instructor of 30 years, including 19 on the Land Lab. "within the cattle world, there are winners and there are americans who don't [win]. We don't wish to name them losers."

however profitable comes with some status and bragging rights, amongst different issues, arguably it's what the students learn while raising and displaying animals it's the lifetime reward.

away from the chaos of the city, far from the urban crowds and electric powered scooters, it's like yet another world for these kids.

Louie the Blue Butt show pig gets a bath on a hot August day. 

Louie the Blue Butt reveal pig receives a bath on a scorching August day. 

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

within the field, Bergstrom, who can be a junior at Clackamas excessive faculty this yr, navigated Louie in various instructions. She changed into working towards for the showmanship competitors, the place she turned into to be judged for the way neatly she may maneuver the hog. Louie gave the impression to be pretty aware of her lead. This endeavor is integral to maintain Louie's muscular body for the market hog competition, the place he became judged on his muscle, quantity and structural correctness as a meat animal.

Louie and Bergstrom must work together as a crew, however Louie is willful. Ignoring her command, he trotted over to a shady spot under a tree to gnaw on a stick.

"He's like a dog," Bergstrom mentioned. As she caught up to him, Louie nudged his face in opposition t her for attention. His character is about as potent as his physique.

preparing an animal for the county fair is loads of responsibility and effort. together with usual pastime and managing, Louie must dwell match and clear.

"every so often I'll take him out and he'll be lined in poop and that i'll run my surrender him and be, like, uck!" Bergstrom stated.

On this present day Louie wasn't too dangerous, but he mandatory a haircut earlier than the fair, so they headed to the wash station.

Louie entered a wash stall with a cacophony of squeals, snorts and screams. Pig squeals can attain 130 decibels, as noted in a look at posted through Iowa State university. For evaluation, a chainsaw can attain 115 decibels and jet plane one hundred forty decibels.

Erika Bergstrom trims her show pig Louie in preparation for the county fair. 

Erika Bergstrom trims her reveal pig Louie in preparation for the county reasonable. 

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

Bergstrom lathered the hog in soap, gently massaging away the dirt, after which rubbed him down with an oil body conditioner to make him easy and shiny. It's similar to how bodybuilding competitors oil as much as capture the gentle and draw attention to the physique constitution.

A close-up of Louie's haircut prior to showtime. 

a close-up of Louie's haircut previous to showtime. 

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

A buzzing hum crammed the house as she glided the electric clipper across his body. Louie did his most suitable to avoid her, but the tight stall house stymied his efforts. He quickly became distracted by an apple core simply outdoor the gate, pressing his snout between the bars to retrieve it.

The total procedure looked far from convenient, but for Bergstrom, it's all in a day's work.

Showtime on the County fair

A hazy morning greeted the day, earlier than the warmth set in at the first day of the Clackamas County reasonable in Canby, Oregon. long earlier than the crowds arrive, the rides beginning spinning and the corn canine birth cooking, the grounds are bustling with the energy of four-H and FFA members getting animals competitors-in a position. It's a symphony of mooing and squealing, squawking and bleating.

At a livestock wash station, a number of cows received a morning tub. regional, a calf lay in a bed of straw, chewing on meals. someone used a vacuum hose — an awful lot like what you'd locate at a car wash — to dry a cow. Mooing filled the morning air.

Bergstrom changed into in the subsequent tent over, the place pigs have been penned adjoining to rows of llamas. Thirty hogs were vying in this market competitors and, comparable to wrestling, the courses are organized by weight.

No. 667. Louie, weighing in at 272 pounds, would compete in class 3 for easy Heavyweight Market Pig.

Bergstrom's mother, Ceanna Bergstrom, straightened Erika's collar simply as her category was called to compete.

Ceanna Bergstrom fixes the collar on her daughter Erika's shirt before the market hog competition at the Clackamas County Fair. FFA competitors are not only judged by their animals, but also their personal appearance. 

Ceanna Bergstrom fixes the collar on her daughter Erika's shirt before the market hog competition on the Clackamas County reasonable. FFA competitors are not handiest judged by using their animals, however additionally their personal appearance. 

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

"a part of it is inserting your most useful foot ahead. not just the animal but also yourself," Ceanna pointed out. "if you demonstrate up searching like you simply rolled off the bed, that's now not going to make a great impact on the judges."

Bergstrom ducked below a barrier and led Louie into the ring.

To the untrained eye, it's an strange scene: a bunch of youth tapping pigs with tassel-tipped whips whereas milling round a sawdust-coated ring, making eye contact with the judge every so often.

A judge evaluates characteristics that affect market value as handlers move their pigs around the ring in a weight-class competition at the Clackamas County Fair.

A judge evaluates qualities that have an effect on market price as handlers circulation their pigs around the ring in a weight-type competitors on the Clackamas County reasonable.

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

one after the other pig-caretaker pairs were referred to as upon to go away the ring except handiest two remained — Bergstrom and a different competitor. The judge, Shannon Schulz, a show pig farmer from Tonopah, Arizona, watched the pairs circulate around the ring.

Bergstrom has developed a methodology involving showmanship.

"I are attempting to move the contrary direction of everyone else to stand out a bit," Bergstrom stated. "When i'm going into the ring, I'll go straight. Then I'll curve so he [the judge] can see the entrance view … then the facet view, then rear view."

in the market hog competition, judges seek structural correctness together with an extended physique, muscular extent and sturdy body. despite the fact many americans associate pigs with plumpness, the premiere meat hog is muscular, now not fats.

To an ordinary onlooker, the animals can seem pretty a good deal the identical. but as Bergstrom's father Cliff mentioned, "You spend sufficient time around these animals and also you beginning getting in a position to pick out the changes."

raising his arm to the sky, Schulz signaled that he'd decided the circular's winner.

He motioned to Bergstrom and Louie, incomes them a purple ribbon and a spot in the Championship pressure, the place winners in all of the weight classes would compete for Grand Champion and Reserve Champion.

"We're on the highway to victory!" Bergstrom mentioned cheerfully. "I'm very satisfied we made it to the ultimate drive these days."

The pair headed again to Louie's pen to damage earlier than the Championship drive as her dad pinned her purple ribbon to the stall.

Cliff Bergstrom hangs the first-place ribbon won by his daughter, Erika, in a Class 3 market hog competition at the Clackamas County Fair in Canby, Oregon, on opening day Aug. 14, 2018.

Cliff Bergstrom hangs the first-area ribbon gained by using his daughter, Erika, in a class 3 market hog competition on the Clackamas County fair in Canby, Oregon, on opening day Aug. 14, 2018.

Jo Mancuso/OPB

If the pair received Grand Champion, Bergstrom would get an ornamental belt buckle and Louie would go first within the public sale.

better-inserting animals go past in the public sale when the optimal bids are made. Bergstrom hoped Louie would earn a spot within the first 15 in the auction line. remaining yr, she put her public sale funds toward attending a management convention in Washington, D.C., and buying Louie.

"all right, purples!" yelled an announcer with a view to get the category winners to the ring for the Championship force.

"Dad, can you hand me my sprayer?" Bergstrom asked, eager to provide Louie a bit additional shine before getting into the ring.

A bottle of skin and body conditioner sits on the North Clackamas FFA chapter supply box. The conditioner gives pigs a smooth, shiny look to enable the judge to see the animal's body structure. 

A bottle of dermis and body conditioner sits on the North Clackamas FFA chapter deliver field. The conditioner offers pigs a smooth, shiny look to permit the judge to see the animal's body structure. 

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

This circular lasted longer than the first however soon adequate the choose comes to a decision.

"There's that vigor hog," Schulz referred to gesturing towards Louie. "a very sound, square and true hog. young lady gifts him well."

The pair placed third average.

"Third. no longer bad," observed Mayfield, the agriculture instructor, to Cliff Bergstrom.

"Can't whinge about that," he replied.

Louie's reward for the day covered marshmallows and Dutch Bros espresso. but the pair had an extended week ahead with early mornings and late nights. in addition to showing Louie in the following day's showmanship competition, Bergstrom turned into additionally showing a lamb in the ewe competitors.

"I'm proud," Bergstrom admitted simply before yelling "Mckenna!" and reaching for a congratulatory hug with the Grand Champion winner. "She turned into spoon-feeding her pig ultimate nighttime to make weight," she talked about of her friend.

"decent job!" she shouted to one more competitor walking previous. Her sportsmanship is evident in the accolades she gives to her peers.

what's discovered in livestock administration is a lesson in life, love and responsibility. It's clear to look the love and care these animals get hold of, and yet after the competitors, they go to auction the place they may be slaughtered and come to be on diners' plates. nearby a thirsty hog guzzled water from a plastic bottle held with the aid of a caretaker.

Erika Bergstrom takes a moment between competing in FFA rounds. 

Erika Bergstrom takes a second between competing in FFA rounds. 

Miranda Daviduk/OPB

earning third vicinity typical in both market hog and showmanship competitions, and sixth in line at auction, Bergstrom's dedication in tending to Louie for the past six months changed into evident.

although it's difficult to say goodbye, it's part of the youngster's agricultural science training.

At auction, he offered for $1,600. Roughly $500 will go towards subsequent year's animal and feed and the remainder will go toward FFA events like the country wide conference. The Grand Champion hog bought for just over $4,200. 

That'll do, pig. That'll do.

Jo Mancuso contributed reporting.

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