Throughout his 12 years in 4-H, 19-year-old Jack Wing has spent countless hours in the barn tending to pig after pig, hoping to one day reach the junior fair market swine pinnacle at the Champaign County Fair. In his final attempt to capture the elusive title of Grand Champion Overall Market Barrow, Wing did just that Tuesday with a 262-pound crossbred hog.
“To have won grand champion overall means everything,” said Wing, a 2015 graduate of Mechanicsburg High School. “I’ve spent the past 12 years (in 4-H) trying to get the grand champion, and to do it in my final year means a lot.”
While the trophy and banner Wing received Tuesday in the Swine Show Arena at the Champaign County Fairgrounds for winning Grand Champion Overall Market Barrow are quite impressive, the main reason the victory in the show ring meant so much to him goes beyond materialistic awards. More important to Wing was being able to share the glory with the man who has stood beside him since he started showing pigs at a early age – his father, John Wing.
“(Showing pigs) is something my dad had done in the past and something we bonded over,” Wing said. “We found a passion in it, and it’s been our way of spending time together.”
As for the 2016 Champaign County Fair Grand Champion Overall Market Barrow, which was bred at Nott Showpigs, Woodstock, Wing said, if any of his swine was going to take home the crown, it was going to be the one that eventually did.
“We brought a handful of barrows we were hoping would do well, and this particular barrow was our main one,” he said, adding another of his barrows took third in the 4-H Market Barrow Show. “I guess the comment the judged used was he is a stout, rugged, maiden one that can walk like a cat. I think that summed him up pretty well.”
With his 4-H career having run its course, Wing had these words of wisdom for up-and-coming 4-H swine exhibitors: “It’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders when you take on a project like this, but it teaches you a lot, and it’s a great life lesson. You often find yourself out in the barn until midnight or 1 a.m. hoping and praying everything will work out. You just have to trust that hard work pays off in the end like it did for me.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.