Champaign County’s Pork Council Pork Barn sales have contributed over $160,000 to scholarships and improvements to the fairgrounds.
The pork barn, which sells pork food items during the Champaign County Fair, has earned more than $164,400 in profits since it began food sales in 2001. The proceeds are used to fund 4-H scholarships for area students and improve the fairgrounds, said Pork Council member Mark Runyan. Runyan is also the co-owner of Oak View Farm Meats in Urbana.
The Pork Council has been involved in the fair for decades, though sales of pork food items started in 2001 with the pork barn trailer, Runyan said. Pork sales started with the pork chop dinner, offered on one night during fair week. As time passed, more pork items were offered for sale throughout the week, such as the ever-popular pork wrap. The trailer was upgraded to a full-sized facility near the swine sales arena in 2010.
The Pork Barn is staffed by volunteers, so all of the proceeds are profits, Runyan said. This gives the group more money to put back into the community and fair.
Though the people have changed, the families that started the pork council and pork barn are still involved, Runyan said.
Some of the fair improvements include steel pens for scramble pigs, show ring concrete, show arena holding pens, wash racks for all the hog barns and concrete floors and new pens for two barns, Runyan said. Some of those projects were funded through a combination of donations from the Pork Council, the Champaign County Fair Board and others.
The most recent improvements are new ceiling and ventilation fans in the show arena, which cost approximately $16,000, Runyan said.
Scholarships are for the Herdsmen Awards. They are cash awards for 4-H students to attend college or further their careers, Runyan said.