Orange County

Junior Livestock Show shows farming as relevant as ever

Future farmers learn and compete at annual Central Piedmont Jr. Livestock Show

Video: They told her not to name him, but she did and Kinley Haze and “Wilbert” formed a bond. Kinley, 16, is a sophomore at Orange High School. Six-month-old Wilbert is a 223-pound Blue Butt show pig.
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Video: They told her not to name him, but she did and Kinley Haze and “Wilbert” formed a bond. Kinley, 16, is a sophomore at Orange High School. Six-month-old Wilbert is a 223-pound Blue Butt show pig.

Over seven-decades ago, farmers and agricultural people created an event to promote and offer a glimpse into farm life, by establishing the Central Piedmont Jr. Livestock Show.

The show evolved from a downtown Durham parade of animals to an event attended by hundreds of farmers and fans of farming, at the old Durham fairgrounds. Eventually, time and agricultural attrition moved the event to southern Orange County, on Orange Grove Road.

In a barn on a hill, families watch children and teens walk pigs or cows into a ring, an opportunity to be assessed and validated. For months, these youth have prepared and practiced and done what takes to persuade a 1,400 pound steer to follow an 80-pound kid into the ring and behave as that child wishes.

Along the way, from decades ago until this week, those kids will have fed and cleansed and groomed and maintained livestock through the cold of winter, and instead of going to hang with friends, because they recognize the value in agriculture and that someone will have to feed the rest of us, eventually.

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Person County resident Bryson Whitfield, 6, leads his Hereford breed heifer around the ring Thursday, April 16, 2015, for judge Andy Burlingham (far right), a Cooperative Extension livestock agent from Pitt County. Whitfield and his brother Benjamin (behind him) competed in the Cloverbuds division at the 70th annual Central Piedmont Junior Livestock Show at the Central Carolina Holstein Association Barn on Orange Grove Road near Chapel Hill. The 4-H Cloverbuds program is open to children, ages 5 to 8. Tammy Grubb tgrubb@newsobserver.com

Raising livestock helps kids learn skills that they will use later in life.

Surprisingly, many are not farm-kids at all. Instead, they are allowed to use farms for learning, share animals with other non-farm kids at the local high school or they are lucky enough to be in a 4-H club.

But farm kid or not, youth come to understand that farming and agricultural awareness is a very necessary connection we all need.

When a kid walks a pig into the ring, it is a stroll forward for farming and a recognition that farming needs youth to carry on a tradition.

The 73rd annual livestock show and sale continues Thursday April 19, near the intersection of Dairyland Road on Orange Grove Road, adjacent to the Orange Grove Fire Company. For more information, see piedmontlivestockshow.org or on Facebook.

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