HANCOCK COUNTY — The coat on the big, beautiful, red-haired pig was shiny thanks to a fresh gloss of oil. The pig’s name — Sexy Red, who is named after a rapper called Sexyy Red — was ready to get out of the cage and show off her stuff in the 4-H main arena.

The pig’s owner and handler, Camryn Blue, a sophomore at Eastern Hancock High School had to give Sexy Red a few hard taps on the nose to get the massive pig back into the cage after Sexy Red tried to bust out when the door swung slightly open.

“She’s ready,” Camryn said.

Camryn, who was dressed in a shiny, royal blue blouse was waiting for her chance to show off her unusually colored pig, something she’s been doing at the 4-H level for the past seven years. Camryn said she was looking forward to the competition at the Hancock County 4-H Fair Sunday morning and was hoping for a first place finish.

“I just like showing pigs,” Camryn said matter-of-factly. “I’ve always had a passion for it, and I like seeing all my friends who are here and, of course, the hope is to win my division.”

 Camryn Blue prepares her pigs during the Hancock County Swine Show. Sunday, June 23, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

Dozens of Hancock County 4-H Fair pig owners showed up in the main barn at the fairgrounds for the 4-H Swine Gilt and Barrow Show first thing Sunday morning. It’s a show designed for specific breeds of pigs. A gilt is a female pig who has not produced a litter of piglets yet or is being used to grow out and finish to butcher, and all 4-H female pigs are considered gilts. A barrow is a castrated male pig typically castrated at 2 weeks old, and all male 4-H pigs are barrows.

Inside the main show barn, Kaylie Low, a junior at Eastern Hancock High School, was in one of the holding areas getting ready to show off her gilt named Black Widow, but she wasn’t real sure how Black Widow was going to do.

“I honestly don’t know,” Kaylie said with a laugh. “The showmanship is her go-to, and that’s what we normally do together. This grade, class isn’t really our thing yet, so we’ll see how it comes out.”

Since Black Widow is a gilt, she was being judged on her breed, how she was made and to see what her future might be.

“They’re gonna look at her and see if in the end she might become a mom,” Kaylie said. “The county fair, it’s not really a show where she can shine, but the Indiana State Fair, that will be her show I think.”

 Kaylie Low directs her pig among a large group of 4-H competitors during the Hancock County Swine Show. Sunday, June 23, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

Kaylie, who works with numerous pigs, noted all of her pigs do better later in the season during state shows as opposed to 4-H shows, but still she knows getting the pigs out and about competing only helps to get them ready for the next level.

“She’s just a baby,” Kaylie said. “We’ve worked together a lot, but this is just her second show.”

Kaylie is in her ninth year of competing and working with animals. She’s slightly bummed that next year will be her last. However, she’s already made plans for the future to stay around farm animals.

“I want to go to college and be a large animal veterinarian,” Kaylie said. “I’m hoping to get a double minor in animal science and live stock judging.”

Inside the main show arena, in the ring handling a pig far larger than he was, Conner Jones, 10, Greenfield, was sure-handed as he led his pig around the dirt waiting for the judge to make a call on how the pig looked.

His mother, Michelle Jones, Greenfield, was on the side of the ring talking a video of Conner and said her son did three years of mini 4-H work before joining the main 4-H program last year.

“Oh yeah, he’s really into this,” she said. “He has a lot of fun and we do, too.”

The fun was evident as Conner flashed a large smile after his turn in the ring was over competing against much older 4-H competitors. He went back into a holding pen and held up three fingers to show his family what place he captured after the work as the announcer broadcast the top four names including Conner’s.

“Conner, come on over here,” his mother said as the family along with Conner and his pig went back into the holding barn across the gravel area to prepare for another showing later in the day.

 An array of onlookers on hand during the Hancock County Swine Show. Sunday, June 23, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter