Swine showmanship takes dedication all year round to be ready for the Scotts Bluff County Fair. The Shimics siblings took initiative in preparing their swines Darla, Darrell and Dolly, which paid off with a first, second and third placing at fair Tuesday.

Katelyn Shimic, 13, who will be in eighth grade at the Gering Junior High this school year, showed her pig Darla first. Katelyn has been showing since she was 8 and competed in her sixth county showmanship.

“I’ve been competing for six years,” she said. “I went into the arena first.”

To ensure Darla was prepared to go in front of the judge, Katelyn said she spent several hours with Darla.

“The hardest part is getting up every morning,” Katelyn said. “We spend four to five hours a day working with the animals.”

With her twin brother, Carter, 13, and little sister, Camille, 9, at her side, they worked on driving the pigs.

“In the beginning, working with them (the pigs) to get their heads up and driving them is hard,” Katelyn said.

Carter said Katelyn has helped him improve his showmanship and offers him advice.

“She tells me to keep the pig’s head up, which is why practicing is so important,” Carter said.

After Katelyn and Carter were selected to compete for the grand champion showman in the intermediate division, they had their eyes on the judge. While Katelyn won two bronze medals at previous county fair showmanships, she hoped to add another to her collection. Carter had not placed in the top three in showmanship.

The judge selected Katelyn as the silver medalist and Carter as the bronze in the intermediate showmanship.

With the twins showmanship competition completed, the family turned their attention to Camille, who competed in the junior division. Camille has worked with Dolly since April as she prepared to participate in her second Scotts Bluff County Fair. As Camille drove Dolly around the arena, the judge pointed at her to go into one of pins.

“My favorite part is getting put in the pin,” Camille said. “I was happy.”

As her father Shain washed off Dolly before Camille went back into the ring for the champion showmanship round, her mom Jana gave her some pointers. Using the brush as representation of the pig, Jana told her to stay facing the judge.

“If the brush is the pig, you need to be behind the pig, facing the judge,” she said.

Camille and Dolly captured the judge’s attention early and as the judge made his selection, he approached Camille and extended his hand. She was selected grand champion showman in the junior division. As Carter and Katelyn watched their little sister place, Katelyn said, “Hard work pays off.”

Their parents were proud of their accomplishments, especially with the challenges they faced last year. Due to the parents’ schedules, the kids took initiative to practice and train their pigs.

“With them taking over ownership, they all got the reward of doing it by themselves. They’re very knowledgeable and they know their stuff,” Jana said. “I’m speechless. The reason being they did this all by themselves.”

From their involvement in 4-H, Jana hopes her children learn responsibility and respect, not only for themselves and each other but also for the animals.

“There was a saying I saw last night that I love,” Jana said. “It said ‘We don’t have kids to raise our livestock. We have livestock to help raise our kids.’”

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.