The grand champion hog at the 2018 Fayette County Junior Fair has been disqualified due to a rules infraction regarding the age of the animal, according to the local fair board.
A rule inside the fair book states that all market hogs — gilts or barrows – must be farrowed (or born) between Jan. 1 and March 1 of the current year. The hog exhibited by 13-year-old Zander Ivey was named grand champion at last Wednesday’s market hog show. On Thursday, the hog sold for $3,400.
“There was proof brought to the board that there was a rule infraction. The board acted on it and the decision was made to disqualify the pig, and that the premium money be returned to the buyers,” said Mike Carson, a Fayette County Fair Board member and a director of the hog department. “We don’t know the actual date of when it was born, but we know it was before January 1st.”
The Record-Herald spoke Tuesday with fair board members, Carson, Jason Gentry (also a hog department director) president Bob Schwartz and vice president Doug Marine. According to the board members, the information was brought to their attention Saturday.
“This is a standing rule that our predecessors made,” Gentry said. “I don’t know exactly how long it’s been in effect.”
Marine added, “We’ve never had a situation like this where we’ve had to strip a winner of the award.”
The family of Zander Ivey took exception to what they call “an outdated rule,” according to a lengthy statement released Tuesday, which also claims the family has been under attack. The statement is attributed to Jim McCoy, the owner of Real McCoy Genetics (a 100-sow showpig and 50-head boar stud operation); Amanda Ivey, the junior fair coordinator and Zander’s mother; and Zander Ivey.
“I want to stress that there was never intent to cheat or misrepresent any of the age facts of the Grand Champion market hog that our son showed at last week’s county fair. Our family, and especially Zander, has been attacked using an outdated rule that is inconsistent with the Ohio State fair rules for market hog shows and a rule that has never, to my knowledge, played a part in our market hog show. Throughout the fair, I visited with many parents and exhibitors and never lied or misrepresented the age of the project and continued to be transparent through meetings with the fair board.
“Facts remain that multiple swine projects participating in the market hog show were outside the age rule and many champions from years past were born prior to January 1. State and National shows do not have age rules for market hogs for many reasons, some based on best choices for animal welfare but also due to difficulty of meeting both an age and weight requirement. We always want to give our pigs and exhibitors the best opportunity for success. As a show community we need to review all the rules in our county fair book to make sure that they are consistent with state and national shows so that we are allowing our county youth the best opportunity to be competitive at those levels.
“The point of youth programs at local shows is to develop responsibility, work ethic and leadership amongst these exhibitors. As a business owner in the swine industry for 45 years, I have had the opportunity to serve on the swine youth advisory board and currently serve on the national board of the swine registry. As a judge of regional and national shows, my integrity has never been questioned, as it has been these past few days at our local fair. As county fair coordinator, Amanda is placed in some very tough situations where decisions are difficult and often unpopular. Our combined work in the industry and this fair have, in some ways, placed a target on our son’s back. Zander is a very successful showman and works tirelessly to develop his skills to be able to compete at the national level. It is unfortunate that a few disgruntled parents made this selfish decision. Their protest was not about the age of market hog, or there would be more protests, this was about a kid that worked really hard and just won too much. Thank you to our friends who have supported us. We appreciate all of you.”
Last week, Ivey also was named the overall swine showman, and his hogs were named champions in the dark cross barrow and dark cross gilt categories. The disqualification of the grand champion hog will not have an impact on Ivey’s other awards.
When asked about the current rule regarding the age of market hogs, Marine said the board “intends on reviewing all of its livestock rules to ensure that we’re up with industry and show standards.”
Marine also said, “We, the committee, appreciate the (McCoy and Ivey) family being open and honest in helping us to reach a resolution in this matter.”
Schwartz said that in a case like this, the reserve grand champion hog does not become the grand champion.
“Places do not change, they stand where they are,” he said.
Drake Sharp exhibited the reserve champion at last Wednesday’s market hog show.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica