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If you go
What: Allen County 4-H Livestock Auction
When: 12:30 p.m. today
Where: Allen County Fairgrounds, 2627 Carroll Road
Sale order: Dairy goat milk, goats, sheep, dairy beef, poultry, swine, rabbits, beef, dairy milk
Forrest Bonin 4H Fair

Forrest Bonin of Leo, Ind., talks about his 10 years as a participant in the Allen County 4H Fair. Some chickens, pigs and turkeys even weigh in on the topic. Journal Gazette video by Chad Ryan.

Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Competitors walk their pigs around the main arena during Sunday’s Swine Carcass Show at the fair.

Swine show a family matter at county fair

Kids enjoy competing in tradition passed down through generations

Randy Schaefer sprays down Zeller, owned by Beth Schaefer, on Sunday at the Allen County Fair.
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Horse show judge Rick Troutner, left, and his son and ringmaster Keegan Troutner, 13, look over riders Sunday in the Open Horse show.

Proud grandparents Ken and Marlene Kurtz had a front-row spot during Sunday’s swine show at the Allen County 4-H Fair.

The Kurtzes sat in a pair of lawn chairs just a few feet away from the edge of the show arena, both holding a list of 4-H participants and information about pigs being shown.

Three of their four grandchildren had shown earlier in the day, Ken Kurtz explained, so now they were waiting to hear the winners.

“We like to come out and watch the kids show,” he said, quickly turning his attention back toward the arena where a large brown pig squealed and ran across it.

Marlene Kurtz said she recalled her time as a 4-H’er in Allen County, but back in those days, her father told her that “girls don’t show animals.”

“He told me that girls just don’t do that, so I did other projects instead,” she said.

When the couple’s son, Jon, and daughter, Lisa, were born, they too were encouraged to participate in the county’s 4-H program – a passion they then passed along to their children.

On Sunday, the whole crew watched from the bleachers – Jon with his wife, Tina, and children Madelyn, 15, and Logan, 11, and Lisa VanAllen with her husband, Carl, and their children Luke, 14, and Kevin, 10.

That’s usually the way it goes with their families during the summer, Tina Kurtz said.

The fair, which concludes today with the annual 4-H Livestock Auction, is a family affair.

This year, the families hadn’t done as well in the competition, but they faced a pretty major setback in April when the barn holding their 4-H pigs caught fire.

“It was just a cold, drizzly, rainy, windy day in April,” Ken Kurtz said. “One of the heat lamps tipped over and caught the barn on fire.”

The family rescued most of their animals, but the three pigs designated for this year’s fair were killed.

The 4-H’ers swapped some of the remaining pigs for the competition, but they didn’t do as well as they might have without the setback, Ken Kurtz said.

The children agreed that one of the biggest challenges of showing a pig at the fair is making sure they spend enough time working with them before fair week arrives.

“You have to work with them a lot,” Madelyn Kurtz said.

“We take them out into this open grassy area and lead them around and walk them.”

Logan Kurtz said he learned a lot from his father, who also showed pigs, but also from watching the older 4-H’ers and picking up tips.

Next year, Logan said he might try his hand at showing a different kind of animal – perhaps a beef feeder calf like he’d seen at a nearby barn.

“I just like them,” he said, turning to look at his dad as he smiled at the thought of adding another animal to the family.