The Great Pig Showman

Ryan Clark

By Sammy Moss

Whether it’s performing on stage or competing on the field, Ryan Clark has done it all. Even taking part in 4-H, showing pigs. 4-H is a youth organization, which takes place all the way through high school, that engages kids in hands-on projects in areas of agriculture, civics, health, and science.

4-H started for Clark when his dad and Troy Louwagie, Andrew and Mitchell Louwagie’s dad, asked if they wanted to join 4-H. So, in the summer going into sixth grade, Clark and his friends decided to do 4-H and show pigs. Clark, now a senior, is one of seven Mount Vernon students who show pigs at the Linn County Fair in Central City. Clark said on their farm they have around 19 pigs, everyone gets two pigs for the county fair and he and his sister Natalie get three to four more for the state fair.

“On fair days I get excited and pumped up. You are always doing something whether it is hanging out and eating or taking care of the pigs,” Clark said.

On these days he starts by helping his dad feed the pigs by 6:30 a.m. and giving them a bucket of water for the day. Then, trying to get them into a wash rack before showing them at 9 a.m. Finally, enjoying the fair with friends and family the rest of the day making sure to check on the pigs every once in a while. Clark said his favorite part about being at the fair is winning the competitions because he is a very competitive person, also being around his family and friends.

The first couple of years showing pigs Clark took pride in naming his pigs before finally realizing it really doesn’t matter because the pigs will soon be bacon. He said even though he and the Louwagie twins don’t name the pigs anymore the girls still have fun naming them. “Some of the pigs’ names were Butter, Wilber, Pork Chop…” said Clark, “ sometimes it’s food related, sometimes it’s not.”

After having this experience of taking care of livestock animals, Clark said it taught him accountability, responsibility, and hard work – all things that he will take with him in the future.