For the second consecutive year, a hog shown by Lilly Henney was awarded the overall grand champion in the Market Hog Show at the 2021 Delaware County Junior Fair.
Last year marked the first time the Junior Fair awarded an overall champion in the hog show, and Henney is now two for two on taking home the top prize with her 265-pound barrow joining last year’s 246-pound gilt. In addition to being awarded the overall grand champion, Henney also showed a gilt that received the reserve grand champion award in its class.
Prior to last year, Henney had never shown a grand champion animal, but the 2020 season proved to be a great one as she took home the top honors at both the Delaware County and Hartford fairs. Now, Henney is on a roll with yet another champion under her belt.
“It feels pretty good. I know my dad was pretty upset (in a good way) with happy tears,” Henney said of winning again.
Asked what she felt stood out about her champion hog this year, Henney pointed to how generally large the hog was, something that stood out to the judge.
“For the last couple of weeks, he’s definitely been washed and walked every day,” Henney told The Gazette. “His feed has been changed a couple of times to try and make him as good as he can be. And then as far as looking at where he did well was that, structurally, he was big. His chest was big, and when you lifted his head up, he was super wide up top. He was a beast.”
Henney, a member of the Barrels, Rails & Such 4-H club, said she knew when she purchased the pig that he was a good one, but it took some work prior to the show in order to get the pig ready to make its best impression.
“Over the last couple of months, he started looking worse and it was just a matter of changing his feed and getting him on certain feeds to make him fresher and look new again,” she said. “It’s a lot of math, trying to make sure you don’t overfeed him and working with his weight.”
Henney expressed uncertainty regarding whether or not she will return next year to try for a third consecutive overall champion. Currently a senior at Centerburg High School, Henney is looking at Otterbein College, Capital University, and Ohio University to do her pre-med studies. She said the distance from home and her ability to get home and work with the pigs will be the deciding factor in whether or not she continues to show after high school.
If the 2021 Delaware County Junior Fair is, indeed, her last time in the show ring, Henney said showing back-to-back overall champions is “absolutely” the best way to end her career. Asked what she’s enjoyed the most about showing, Henney said the friendships she’s made will be the lasting memory, as will the excitement of knowing she has one of the best pigs in the ring.
“I definitely have made some amazing friends through 4-H,” Henney said. “We’ve traveled all over the country together. I’ve been closer with my pig friends than I have even my school friends through my high school career.
“As for showing itself, that feeling when you know you have a good pig and you are all nervous and stuff. But the first time you hit that gate and the first time the judge sees that pig, you know you brought the good one. It’s just excitement to see how he does.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.