6/29/2013 7:00 AM
By Shannon Spargo New York Correspondent
HAMBURG, N.Y. — Western New York’s Hog Preview Classic expanded this year, bringing in 251 hogs for the high-stakes event on June 1-2.
The hog show, which was held at the Erie County Fairgrounds, had 57 more hogs this year than last — so many that officials needed to open overflow housing in another barn.
Jerry Stephens, exhibitor, called the event “the Northeast’s best kept secret” because of its high organized schedule, friendly staff and dedicated exhibitors.
Exhibitors came from all over New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to compete in a skill-a-thon and showmanship on Saturday. Sunday was all about the hogs, with a purebred breeding gilt show and market hog show.
On Saturday, exhibitors settled in, weighing and washing their swine immediately.
Some youth then chose to test their pig knowledge in a skill-a-thon competition, traveling to stations that focused on different aspects of animal husbandry.
For many, learning more about the industry is a major goal of showing swine.
Exhibitor Natalie Emerling said her favorite part of the classic was “seeing different ways to show and take care of pigs.”
Similarly, exhibitor Andy Bontrager said that he likes to “make new friends and new connections with people who have common interests.”
Bontrager made even more connections, as he showed alongside his nephews, ages 8 and 12, at their first show. “The kids had a blast and made a lot of new friends,” Bontrager said.
His 8-year-old nephew, Connor Scott of Alexander, N.Y., even won the pee-wee division of the skill-a-thon.
On Saturday night, 124 of these young exhibitors, from ages 3 to 21, competed in showmanship.
Clayton Stephens, 18, of Clinton Corners, N.Y., fought his way to champion showman, followed by Jacob Diamond of Smithfield, Pa., as reserve champion.
The judge, Kade Hummel of Cabery, Ill., said that the showmanship champions at the classic could do well anywhere, even at nationals — a testament to the talent showcased in western New York.
By Sunday morning, officials had a final count of 251 hogs, both breeding and market.
Sunday’s show, also judged by Hummel, began at 11 a.m.
The first show focused on purebred breeding stock, with Hummel sorting through six different breeds.
Champion purebred gilt went to the Yorkshire exhibited by Morgan Miller of Greenville, Pa. Reserve purebred gilt was the Duroc exhibited by Connor McCrumb of Volant, Pa.
After the breeding gilt show, market hogs came to the ring, beginning with gilts.
The champion market gilt was a heavy weight shown by Lilly Underberg of Springville, N.Y. Reserve market gilt went to a medium weight shown by Natalie Emerling of Perry, N.Y.
Emerling later praised the show for being “very organized and great competition.” She was one of several exhibitors who could not think of a negative aspect of the classic, saying that it was, “very well run.”
After Underberg’s and Emerling’s winnings in the market gilt show, market barrows competed.
The champion barrow was a medium weight shown by Matthew Kasanicky of Leechburg, Pa. Reserve champion barrow was a medium weight shown by Jacob Diamond of Smithfield, Pa.
At the end of all three shows, Hummel gathered his champions (breeding gilts, market gilts and market barrows) to the ring for one final drive: the overall championship.
Hummel chose Morgan Miller’s champion purebred gilt as the grand champion hog, Matthew Kasanicky’s champion barrow as the reserve champion hog, and Jacob Diamond’s reserve champion barrow as the honorable mention hog.
Winners received hanging, aluminum tack boxes and monetary awards.
For a complete list of winners and details about next year’s competition, check out the Erie County Fairgrounds website at http://www.the-fairgrounds.com/<\c> Photo by Shannon Spargo
Andy Bontrager shows off one of his hogs during the Western New York Hog Preview Classic held the weekend of June 1.