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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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.