Lilly Henney was a winner at the 2020 Delaware County Junior Fair as her 246-pound hog was named the overall grand champion of the event. This year marked the first time the junior fair awarded an overall grand champion in the Market Hog Show.
“I feel really good about it,” Henney said of the award. “It makes me very happy.”
Henney, a junior at Centerburg High School and a member of the Barrels, Rails & Such 4-H club, was ever so close to having a grand champion two years ago, but her barrow was ultimately named the reserve grand champion at the 2018 Delaware County Junior Fair. That near-winner only added to the excitement this year as she got over the hump, Henney said.
“A couple of years ago, I was so close but just couldn’t do it,” she said. “But this year, I made it.”
The entire Delaware County Fair took on a significantly different feel this year due to the pandemic. At the junior fair, Henney said she only noticed “a little bit of a difference.” In particular, she said showing while having to wear a mask was “pretty terrible” and “distracting” as she tried to focus inside the show ring.
Henney said that picking out pigs in the spring really comes down to “the luck of the draw,” and she was able to get lucky this year. However, she added there is still a lot of hard work that goes into showing pigs.
“There’s a ton of work,” Henney said. “There are days around the barn for 6-10 hours a day in the summer. You have to clean their pens, you have to walk them and wash them. A lot of (the time) goes into their feeding.”
Asked what a judge is looking for in a grand champion hog, Henney said much emphasis is put on the pig’s structure, as well as their feet and legs, and how well the pig walks. In regard to her champion hog, Henney said she had one of the smaller pigs in the entire barn this year. However, she said her pig had the biggest feet and structure in the event. “She just stuck out,” Henney said.
While having a grand champion is an accomplishment on its own, Henney said having her hog selected as an overall grand champion made the moment even more special.
“It puts you that one step further,” she said. “We have never gotten a supreme grand champion at any of our county fairs, and then we got it at Hartford (Fair) and Delaware (County Fair) this year, so my dad got pretty emotional. It was an amazing year for us.”
Henney said she will likely be back at the Delaware County Fair next year in hopes of showing another grand champion. She said that moving to the selection of an overall champion was something that had been pushed for in the past, and she expects it will remain the case moving forward.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.