Prepping for fair

Berthoud 4Hers buckle down for Larimer County Fair and Junior Livestock Sale

By Katie Harris
The Surveyor

Parker Graznik, 10, (left) and his brother, Reece Graznik, 12, work with their pigs at their home southwest of Berthoud on Aug. 1 in preparation for the Larimer County Fair 4H Junior Livestock Auction that will take place on Wednesday, Aug., 10 at The Ranch in Loveland. Parker’s pig is a Hampshire named “Twinkie” and Reece’s is a Bluebutt named “Spud.” This is the third year for the Graznik brothers participating in the livestock auction as part of the Berthoud Sagebrush 4H Club. The club has 46 members. The Graznik brothers spend about four months raising the pigs, from about two month old, to get them ready for the auction, including feeding, watering and working with them to train them to show at the fair.
John Gardner / the Surveyor

For most of us, the Larimer County Fair inspires images of Ferris wheels, cotton candy, and cute, cuddly farm animals just waiting to be fawned over by sticky-handed tots and their parents who flock to the event every year.

Seldom do we consider the work that goes into caring for, training, and socializing those animals in the days and months leading up to fair week, or the fact that it’s primarily kids raising these animals for the public’s enjoyment and education, and just maybe for that blue ribbon or top-dollar sale.

But brothers Parker and Reece Gaznik are well aware of the work that goes into raising animals for fair. Members of the Berthoud 4H club, Sagebrush Riders, the Gaznik brothers have brought pigs to fair for the past three years and are in the final stages of preparing their pigs for this year’s fair and livestock sale right around the corner.

Twelve-year-old Reece Gaznik said the week before fair is when he works the hardest, since he adds washing, shaving and loading his pig in the trailer to his already extensive routine of feeding, watering, training and exercising the animal.

“This year my goal is to have a well-trained, good-looking pig,” said Reece. He said his pig, “Spud,” isn’t as muscular in the shoulders as he’d like, so that’s been his area of focus this year.

Parker Gaznik has faced his own challenges this year with his pig, “Twinkie.” According to the Gaznik’s 4H leader, Kelly Fischer, Twinkie is one lazy pig. Parker has been spending extra time each day exercising Twinkie with his “pig stick,” a training tool used to steer pigs around the arena.

“I’m really hoping he doesn’t lie down in the show arena,” said Parker. He said he had the opposite problem last year, with a pig who liked to run around in the arena, refusing to calm down and walk.

Reece Graznik, 12, works with his Bluebutt pig, Spud, in preparation for next week’s Larimer County Fair 4H Junior Livestock Auction on Aug. 10. John Gardner / The Surveyor

Reece Graznik, 12, works with his Bluebutt pig, Spud, in preparation for next week’s Larimer County Fair 4H Junior Livestock Auction on Aug. 10.
John Gardner / The Surveyor

“I’ve learned that the best thing you can do during the show and the sale is to smile, no matter what,” said Parker. “That, and it’s important to show both sides of your pig.”

Despite their share of swine-related challenges, the Gaznik brothers have done well for themselves in past fairs. Their first pigs cost $75 apiece, and they each walked away with $600. The following year they put part of their profits toward buying higher-quality pigs, at $200 each, and each walked away from the sale with around $1,000. This year they’ve upped the ante again, spending $300 each on their pigs.

Parker said his goal for this year’s fair is to place better during judging than last year, when the 10-year-old won fourth- and fifth-place ribbons for his pig.

“My brother and I are both really competitive, and we give our opinions to each other a lot, but we don’t bash each other,” said Reece. “We both hope the other one does well too if we end up in the same class.”

Graduating 4Her shares his years of experience with younger members

Jacob Sawdey was only six years old when he joined 4H as a Cloverbud. This year the 18-year-old will compete in his 12th and final fair as a member of the Berthoud Sagebrush Riders 4H club before graduating from the program.

“My family has always raised pigs, but at some point I decided turkeys were neat and wanted to start showing them,” said Sawdey. That decision paid off, and Sawdey said he was excited to have a turkey win grand champion two years ago, and have the opportunity to ride in the grand champion parade.

Sawdey, who said the best part of being in 4H has been sharing his knowledge with younger members, advised incoming 4H members to spend time with their animals as much as possible if they hope to follow in his footsteps with a champion.

“Work with your animals daily so they get used to you and other people and they’re not scared at fair,” he said. Sawdey said he spent his days outside from the time the turkeys were two weeks old, socializing them and letting them roam once their feathers turned white, indicating they were big enough to be out on their own.

Jacob Sawdey’s 10-year-old sister Sierra is one of the younger 4Hers he’s had the opportunity to mentor. She plans to show her pig, “Oreo,” at fair this year. She, too, has been spending all her spare time with her animal, letting him smell and get used to the pig stick before fair, and making sure he’s eating enough high protein pig food.

“My pig last year didn’t make weight, so that’s what I’ve been working really hard on this year,” said Sierra. She said a big part of keeping weight on a pig is keeping it cool with plenty of mud, as cool pigs tend to eat more than hot pigs.

But Sierra said the biggest challenge in getting a pig ready for fair isn’t getting it to eat. “The very hardest part is giving the pig a bath and keeping it clean.” she said.

Jacob’s focus for now is on doing his best in his last year of fair. After that, he said he’ll begin to think about the future. He said what lies ahead is still undecided, but he thinks he’ll continue to raise turkeys, and to help his sister with her projects when he graduates high school next year.

4H and Larimer County Fair leave a lasting impression, inspire good deeds

Much like the crowds who attend the Larimer County Fair each year, the 4H kids involved in fair leave with fond memories of their own.

“The pride they feel after fair in knowing that they worked hard for something and have something to show for it; that’s the best part,” said Fischer.

Sierra Sawdey echoed that sentiment, saying the best part for her each year was getting to raise an animal and sell it. She said it wasn’t that hard to say goodbye at the sale because she knows the profits go to buying a new animal to raise in the spring.

Parker Graznik, 10, checks the feed bin while his Hampshire pig, Twinkie, eats on Aug. 1.
John Gardner / The Surveyor

For Reece Gaznik, another highlight of 4H has been going to various events held throughout the year, and attending the horse shows. His brother Parker Gaznik said riding the roller coaster at fair after a long day with the animals is what he looks forward to each year.

As for Jacob Sawdey, he is hoping to finish off his final fair experience with a bang this year, but said either way he’ll have plenty of great memories to look back on.

Those memories include the time he donated most of the profits from the sale of his grand champion turkey to the family of one of the poultry superintendents whose granddaughter was ill.

“It was the third bird I’d ever had make it to the Junior Livestock Sale,” said Jacob. “I asked the announcer to say that I would donate more than half of the proceeds from my bird to the family. It was a good feeling.”

Junior Livestock Sale turnout expected to reach all-time high for 2016

The Larimer County Fair will take place Aug. 5-9 at the The Ranch, with the Junior Livestock Sale taking place Aug. 10tat 4:30 p.m. in The Ranch Arena.

According to Cindy Buckardt, a member of the Livestock Sale Committee, total sales from the event have steadily increased in the last few years. She said this is a reflection of an increase in participants, as well as an increase in generosity from the community.

In 2015 total sales exceeded $500,000. This year the Livestock Sale Committee expects the number of participants to jump from 225 to 265.

The Junior Livestock Sale is open to the public, and there are multiple options for participating. The resale option allows buyers to bid on an animal, then, by selling the animal to a packer, pay only the difference between the bid price and market price. The rest of the cost goes to the 4H member for use in next year’s fair and as a college fund. The amount paid over market price is a tax deduction for the buyer.

Another option is to bid on an animal to purchase for personal consumption. The Livestock Sale Committee will arrange delivery to a designated processor.

A third option is to consider an add-on bid, which can be a smaller amount and is directly credited to the sale amount and goes to the 4H member.

All buyers are invited to a complimentary barbecue dinner from 5-8 p.m. at The Ranch.

For more information about the Junior Livestock Sale contact Cindy Buckardt at 970-481-7993, or visit www.larimercountyfair.org.