SEDALIA – In jeans and a worn-out Cardinals T-shirt, Tyler Martin, 17, looked like any other competitor at the Missouri State Fair swine show. But Martin, a Centralia High School student, won the 2009 Grand Champion Barrow title at the State Fair on Friday. Martin competed with Chrome, a castrated male pig, also called a barrow.
While Martin talked about the experience, the winning pig slept, sprawled out in the back of his pen on clean wood shavings.
Officially, the win belongs to Tyler Martin, but he was quick to point out that he thought he shared the win with his sister.
“It’s more a partnership than just my pig,” Martin said. He teamed up with his sister Katie, 15, to raise, exercise and train their five pigs. It wasn’t until they did the final weigh-in before the competition that they decided who would show each pig.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s both their wins,” said Greg Martin, father of Tyler and Katie.
All of the grand champion animals from the fair will be auctioned off at the Sale of Champions on Saturday, Aug. 22. Last year’s championship pig sold for $22,000.
Tyler Martin expected his pig to command a slightly lower price at the sale than last year, saying that market prices for swine are down to around 40 cents per pound. Thirty percent of the final sale price will go to the Youth in Agriculture Scholarship sponsored by the Missouri State Fair Foundation. The remainder will go to Tyler, who plans to split the money with his sister. Both of them said they plan on saving the money for college.
Also showing at the fair was Shari Brunner, 17, of Centralia High School and an officer of the National FFA Organization. Brunner was pleased to place eighth in the fourth class of the Open On-Foot Barrow competition.
“For us, it’s a big deal to get penned,” Shari’s mom, Terri Brunner, said in reference to the placing process.
As the youngest state officer of the Missouri FFA Organization, Shari Brunner said it’s her job to promote FFA and to be a leader in her community.
“I like being able to talk to other kids and teach them about how they can get involved in leadership,” Brunner said.
She said there's more to the organization than just competing; it’s about developing respect and responsibility.
Greg Martin said he sees his children developing qualities of teamwork and sportsmanship, among others, through their work with FFA.
He said that all the young people participating were learning life lessons, whether they were winning or just competing.
“They're all good kids,” he said. “You won’t find a bad kid here.”
Martin also showed livestock as a youth and said he learned the same lessons.
“Here you’ll make friends you’ll have for life,” Martin said.