A couple of traditions may have gotten started over in the O’Neill Swine Building. Making its debut at the 2023 Ohio State Fair, the “Breaking Boundaries” Pig Show featured participants between 9 and 22 years old with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Along with the assistance of 25 youth mentors from the Ohio Pork Council’s OH-PIGS program, the participants experienced their first-ever “center-ring” opportunity to care for and show pigs in front of a state fair audience complete with judges.
“We know the real-world life lessons that are gained in the show ring for so many youths around Ohio and the nation and we wanted to create that type of opportunity for this special group of young people, too,” said Kelly Morgan, OH-PIGS manager, and Ohio State Fair assistant swine superintendent. “While the experience may have only been for one evening at the State Fair, we hope that for the young people and their families that this inaugural show created a lifelong memory that creates good emotions.”
Thanks to the kind collaboration by OH-PIGS’ families, each participant was furnished with their own show pig and paired with a mentor to help guide them in their experience.
“We hope that we’re starting something that will be an annual event at the Ohio State Fair,” said Cheryl Day, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Council. “It’s just another way that we can demonstrate how our state’s pig farmers and show pig families continue to give back to not only their own communities, but the whole state.”
The 2023 Ohio State Fair also included a new Pork-Off Show where Ohio legislators got their turn in the show ring.
“We got eight legislators in the Ohio House and in Ohio Senate and teamed them up with some of our great young people here in the hog barn at the State Fair to give them a quick course on how to show a pig, then we turned the legislators loose. One of them maybe had done it a little bit before, but none of them had ever been in the show ring and experienced this. It was a great time to show legislators what our young people are doing and what we do in agriculture,” said Brian Baldridge, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “We need to make sure we are telling our story and talking about the great things that we’re doing in agriculture here in our great state. It’s always relationships before issues, so we’re building these relationships here tonight.”