HARRISBURG, Pa. — Rodger Bankert knows a thing or two about the Keystone International Livestock Exposition, and he knows a thing or two about hogs.
Bankert has been on the KILE board for half a century, co-chairman of the swine show for the past 20 years, and has been showing his Chester White and Duroc breeding stock at KILE since 1959, the show’s second year of existence. He also shows every year at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and at the York Fair.
Show hogs are in his blood, he said when we caught up with him on Thursday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex. He likes KILE because he gets to compete with the best swine breeders in the world.
No matter the kind of animal, KILE is a great place to be for livestock breeders and producers. The 2019 event brought thousands of cattle, sheep, alpacas, pigs and horses to Harrisburg. More than 700 youth and adult competitors from 27 states and Canada vied for honors in the livestock competitions. There was also a nationally sanctioned barbecue contest, and free, family-friendly events throughout the week.
In addition to his swine chair duties, Bankert was a notable presence with his 10 hogs in the show ring. He had two third-place winners, a trio of second-place ribbons and a first in the March gilt competition, which also accounted for one of his second-place finishers.
There were 200 hogs in the breeding swine competitions. His eight top-10 places was not a bad day for the 10 breeding animals he took to the show. He also had a reserve champion Chester White barrow in the on-foot competition.
Bankert’s daughter-in-law, Karena, who’s married to his son Gregory, also had some Chester Whites in the breeding swine category.
Bankert used to have 35 sows on his farm in Hanover, York County, but is now down to a dozen. He keeps the sows in a barn, where he also has farrowing pens. He keeps his market hogs on pasture where they always have access to water, and where they’re fed twice a day. The pastured hogs go to market when they hit 280 pounds.
Bankert’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have all been involved at some point in their lives in the business and showing of hogs. Seems it’s in the Bankert blood.