Veteran Brock Montgomery and first timer Cole Freeman captured the top spots in the swine judging at the Pratt County Fair.

The right place at the right time. That's a key to winning the swine competition at the Pratt County Fair. That and having a pig that's market ready when it enters the livestock show arena during the fair.

For Brock Montgomery, he had it all and walked away with Grand Champion Swine at the fair. It took hard work and a bag of marshmallows.

This is a repeat for Montgomery who is a member of the Glendale Reapers and was Swine Grand Champion in 2016 with the mother of this years grand champion. He was also reserve grand champion the two previous years so he knows what it takes to be a champion.

Reserve Champion this year is Clayton Freeman who is in his first year of 4-H and is a member of Trailblazers 4-H club.

Montgomery got his crossbred pig from Doyle Boyd in April and has been working with it everyday to get it ready for the fair. He works with the pig twice a day and tries to get both workouts in before it gets too hot. It takes time and effort to teach the pig and get it ready.

The proper feed is also an important factor. Good feed produces a good pig. As it turns out, the pig also likes marshmallows and they use them as a treat.

He makes sure the pig is washed and walked to get used to being in the show ring. The moment he hits the show ring, Montgomery's focus is on the judge. Any time the judge looks his way, Montgomery wants to be looking back at the judge.

A key to success in the ring is to make sure to keep the pig between himself and the judge. The pig needs to keep moving so the judge can see its stride. While he keeps the pig moving, it's important to not overwork the pig at the same time.

To keep the pig visible, Montgomery keeps the pig away from the other pigs and out of corners.

"Get away from other pigs and look for the open space," Montgomery said.

Preparation is an important part of showing in the livestock ring. He makes sure the pig is clean, clips any long hair, puts fly spray on them to keep the flies away and even gives them a sun screen treatment because pigs can get sunburned, Montgomery said.

All his hard work resulted in a champion pig and will pay off again when he sells the pig at the 4-H Auction July 22 at 1 p.m.

He enjoys helping others working with others as they learn how to show pigs. He also likes helping them understand the swine industry and what they have to do to produce a good animal.

He choose showing swine because he wanted something with a future and he has his eye on something in the swine industry for a career.

His biggest help in showing swine has come from his mother Lori and from Doyle Boyd who helped him understand what it takes to show swine.

He has learned a lot from other 4-H'ers including Garrett Smith and Brady McComb and Jan Parsons.

Montgomery is a nine year member of the Glendale Reapers 4-H Club and has been showing swine for four years. His other 4-H projects include cattle, livestock judging and foods.

The swine Reserve Grand Champion is Cole Freeman who is 7-years-old and just in his first year of 4-H. He is a member of the Country Trailblazers.

He said he liked showing pigs because they are bacon. He picked his crossbred pig because it was the biggest and heaviest. He started working with his pig in February and works with it every day. He makes sure it is fed and watered and clean.

He likes working with pigs but has learned an important lesson.

"Pigs don't listen to you," Freeman said.

He plans on showing pigs again next year.

Besides showing pigs this year, Freeman also has projects in bucket calf, goats, photography, sewing and rockets.

The future of the swine program at the Pratt County Fair is in good hands. Swine Judge Lane Mai, who has a 50 sow operation at Russel, said the number of young kids coming up in the program is good and many other fairs don't have nearly these numbers coming up in the program.

"The numbers look good," Mai said.

The line between show pigs and market pigs is very fine. Mai said he saw both at Pratt and that was a sign of a good work. The pigs he saw Thursday, especially Montgomery's pig, were what the hog industry is looking for as product.

The weather is always a factor at the fair and this year was no exception. The kids handled the heat and their pigs well.

@GaleR_Tribune