Gavin Cooper showed the Supreme Champion Market Hog at last summer’s Great Jones County Fair. (Photo by Pete Temple)
PORK MONTH FEATURE
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
When it comes to showing animals at the Great Jones County Fair, 13-year-old Gavin Cooper doesn’t look at it as work. It’s something he takes pride in and enjoys.
This past summer was Gavin’s third year in a row showing pigs at the fair, something that was passed on by his older brother, Scot Stingley. After seeing all of the trophies and ribbons his brother was bringing home from the Jones County Fair, Gavin said he knew it was something he wanted to do as well.
“I grew up around it,” he said.
The Coopers (parents Becky and Brian) purchase pigs and raise them on their farm outside of town. After Scot aged out of 4-H and FFA, Gavin has certainly got the bug and younger brother Rylan will start showing pigs at the fair next summer.
“I watched Scot show pigs and just took interest in it,” said Gavin. After helping him over the years with chores and caring for the pigs, it was only natural that Gavin take up the talent when he was old enough.
“I like animals a lot and like to be around animals,” said Gavin of why he enjoys being involved in 4-H. “You also meet some really nice people.”
After three years of showing pigs and other animals at the fair, Gavin said it’s taught him a lot.
“You have to work hard to win,” he said, plain and simple.
That motto proved right for Gavin. At this year’s Jones County Fair, he won the biggest award of them all during the Swine Show, Supreme Champion Market Hog.
“I was shocked, but happy about it,” Gavin said of the coveted award.
Other awards Gavin took home at the fair this year included: Heavy Weight Champion, Champion Purchase Barrow, Middle Weight Champion, Champion Purchase Gilt, Supreme Purchase Market Hog, Champion Purebred Barrow and Supreme Purebred Market Hog.
It’s more than meets the eye when it comes to preparing the pigs for show. Gavin explained he gets up early to feed his pigs then walk them around to practice for showing in the ring at the fair. He also cleans their pens at home, washes them down and then feeds them again at the end of the day.
Showing pigs, above other animals, is perhaps the hardest thing to do.
“They like to be really ornery,” Gavin said. “They don’t like to listen.”
That’s why it takes a lot of time to work with the pigs up until fair week. Gavin said the longer he walks his pigs around, the better they seem to do in the show ring. He said it’s important not to walk them around a rocky path or gravel because it’s hard on their feet. He said you also need to show them that you are the boss.
If his pigs do well during the fair, Gavin rewards them with some unusual treats such as marshmallows, dry cake mix and oats.
“They seem to like it,” said Gavin.