It’s A Pig Deal … For Local 4-H Families

Livestock exhibitions at the Merced County Fair showcase deep roots of local agriculture traditions.


Camille and Savannah Anker, sisters about a year apart, had grins on their faces like a pair of Cheshire cats.

“We’re going to compete with one another this year,” Camille said as she gave Savannah a hug. 

Moments later the two El Nido 4-Hers were in front of a livestock judge showing off their pigs “Johnny Cash” and “Billy Bacon.”

Brody Lewallen, 12, of Merced River 4-H, at left, celebrates with family members Kinsley and Kasen Lewis, after his pig ‘Hank Williams’ was chosen as the 4-H Reserve Champion Market Hog.

They were cheered on by mentors and family members, including Rocky and Jay DeJager, a couple of other 4-H’ers. Meanwhile, however, all the bragging rights were going to Emily Schoonhoven of McSwain 4-H and Brody Lewallen of Merced River — two youngsters who ended up winning “Champion” status for their prized animals. They both were swarmed by family and friends with high fives and words of encouragement. 

The swine competition on Tuesday morning inside the Hilmar Cheese Barn at the Merced County Fair was just one of many livestock exhibitions this week that showcase the deep roots of our local agriculture traditions, as well as the strong mentorship that exists to cultivate positive learning experiences. Though there are many siblings rushing about, gaining skills and learning responsibility, you could say everyone involved in these 4-H and FFA clubs make up one big family.

“This livestock program is the backbone of the Merced County Fair, providing important life-skill building experiences for our 4-H, FFA and Independent students who tirelessly care for, market and show their animal projects,” says Terri O’Leary-Collins, the fair’s livestock superintendent.  

Exhibitions and showmanship competitions will continue to take place in the Dairy Ring, Glacier Ring and Les McCabe Arena through Friday evening. And then on Saturday, June 8, starting at 9:30 a.m., the Jr. Livestock Auction will take place inside the Hilmar Cheese Barn. Youngsters from around the county in 4-H and FFA, as well as independent exhibitors, will watch their market goats, lambs, swine and beef go up for sale at the auction on Saturday, as they look to take home the top prize and price for their animals. 

Things will wind down on Sunday, at 10 a.m., when there will be an awards presentation inside the Hilmar Cheese Barn. 


4-HFFALivestockMercedMerced CountyMerced County Fair
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