Miles entered the fair with no expectations. He knew his crazy Holstein/Suffolk cross hog (https://www.lifeisthestoriesyoucantell.com/life-is-the-stories-you-can-tell/holsteinsuffolk-cross) would not perform well in the showmanship ring. She was simply too wild and willful. He also knew that she would not place high in the market class. The month of growth she lost as a result of chronic scours put her too far behind to catch up. Realistically, he knew that this would not be his year to shine at the fair. He could hope for a blue ribbon and that was about it.
But hearts are not realistic and hopes not always reasonable. He loves pigs. Every year, in mid-January, he begins asking “When do I get my pig?” [The pigs do not arrive on the place until the first of April.] When his pig does finally arrive, it is not uncommon for him to go down to the pen and just hang out with his hog for up to an hour at a time. Also he really loves showing his pig. And he is really good at it. Every year he is invited into the final showmanship round. As a junior showman he won a belt buckle (Reserve Grand Champion) and he harbors hope--a realistic hope--of earning another one. Working as a team with one’s animal in the show ring brings an adrenaline rush that is unique. For Miles exceling with his pig is a once-in-the-year opportunity that comes only during the county fair. And it did not happen this year. And it hurt.
His pig did earn a blue ribbon and she did not sprint the entire time she was in the show ring, which was good, but not good enough to fulfill his fair dreams. It was simply a hard year for him. Hard.
As if getting 5th in his market class and not participating in showmanship were not blows enough, he discovered on Saturday that his animal had been listed as a red ribbon hog and ranked as #185 in the auction order. Devastating.
At the Junior Livestock Auction, the animals, in theory, are ranked according to descending quality, with the grand champion animals being sold first, reserve champion animals sold second, star class animals third, blue ribbons animals fourth and red ribbon animals last. Also, in theory, the higher the animal is ranked, the more it sells for. The last blue ribbon hog was #130 so the clerical error that listed Miles’ hog as a red ribbon animal cost him at least 55 spots in the auction order. Ouch. OUCH! Tears welled in both our eyes as we reeled from this latest blow.
Enter Dr. Paul Mackley. Literally.
We were sitting numbly on the bleachers in the auction arena and animal #124 was being sold when we saw Dr. Mackley enter the building. Dr. Mackley and his darling wife Karen have long been generous supporters of junior livestock in general and of our children specifically. Miles had contacted them about being buyers nonetheless his appearance was a surprise. A very, VERY pleasant surprise.
Dr. Mackley flipped our day. Miles eyes, which had been dulled by disappointment, sparkled again. Appreciation, gratitude, and feelings of thanksgiving filled my heart.
Appreciation, gratitude, and feelings of thanksgiving filled my heart again when the auctioneer introduced Miles and his animal. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “This is a special young man. We made a mistake and listed his pig as a red ribbon hog when in fact it earned a blue ribbon. And this young man did not make a fuss about it. Let’s give him a big round of applause and treat him right.” The crowd did give Miles a round of applause and did treat him right. The bidding started at a higher beginning bid than any of our children have EVER had; Dr. Mackley had to bid against others twice to get the pig. When it was sold to Dr. Mackley Miles’ grin was miles wide and he was so excited he raced his running pig out of the ring.
Oh thank you! I am so grateful for the good people in this world. Thank you to all of you who so generously contributed to Miles’ pig project. Thank you to the people in the auction crowd who treated Miles right. Thank you to the volunteers who make the Weber County Junior Livestock show and auction an option for so many kids (306 this year….). And thank you, THANK YOU, to Dr. Mackley for flipping our fair.
All is well that ends FABULOUSLY!