Ava Astorino showed Tuesday that age doesn’t matter in the show ring as the 9-year-old Urbana resident exhibited the Grand Champion Overall Market Barrow at the Champaign County Fairgrounds.
Daughter of Josh and Christy Astorino, Ava, who is entering the fourth grade at West Liberty-Salem Elementary, attributed the victory to hard work and a lot of help from her family and the Nott family.
“It’s hard work,” she said. “You have to walk them (hogs) every night, and you have to wash and feed them to keep them clean and healthy.”
At 247 pounds, the winning crossbred barrow, which was bred at Nott Showpigs in Woodstock, has had quite a run at the 2017 Champaign County Fair. Along with taking home the title of Grand Champion Overall Market Barrow, the hog was named Grand Champion Born and Raised Barrow.
As for Ava, although she has been showing hogs in the open class at the county fair since the age of 3, this year is the first time she has competed in 4-H, following in the footsteps of her father, who showed cattle as a kid.
As a rookie 4-H exhibitor, Ava has quickly laid the ground work for what could blossom into a 4-H career for the record books, especially when it comes to showing swine.
In addition to showing the Grand Champion Overall Market Barrow and Grand Champion Born and Raised Barrow, Ava’s growing list of accomplishments at this year’s fair includes showing the Reserve Champion Born and Raised Gilt and 3rd Overall 4-H Market Gilt, as well as being named Grand Champion Swine Rookie Showmanship.
When asked what she would tell someone hoping to one day show a grand champion animal at the fair, Ava said, “You have to work really hard at it and always get up early to take care of them.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.