SHOWING HOGS AT THE FFA FAIR
September 4, 2007
Late summer 1957
Good day. I am Powell (PJ) Grosboll, distant cousin of
William Cyrus Grosboll. (We are distant cousins or close
relatives, depending on how we feel about each other on
a particular day.) I have been reading his articles on
times past, and I wanted to share a story.
I, too, grew up on the farm, but I was a misfit and
today remain mostly a white collar snob. (But I don’t
belong to a country club.)
I worked many summers on the farm for my Uncle Tom
Grosboll and the summer of 1957 was no exception. I was
going into my Senior year of high school. My cousin
Tommy was two years my junior and could not yet
(legally) drive. Consequently, when he had to show hogs
at the Illinois State Fairgrounds to complete an FFA
(Future Farmers of America)
project, I was elected to go with him because I could
drive the truck the necessary 25 miles. This was a
welcome relief from my usual duties of bucking bales and
cleaning out livestock habitats. (Barns)
Tom’s project was supposed to be a litter of market
sized pigs. These guys are small enough to run. More on
that later. From my observations and logic, it would
seem to me that most of the FFA “boys” would identify
their litters from birth and work with them all summer
so they would be tame enough to show, not to mention be
an actual litter. (Siblings)
Of course not Tommy. On the day of the show, we backed
the truck up to the pig lot and loaded five
undisciplined pigs. Tommy picked them by saying, “Those
five will do.”
When we get to the show, most everyone showing pigs wore
their FFA jackets, jeans and work boots. Most also had
cute little hand held pieces of white fence with the
name of their farm on them to help control the pigs.
Many fathers were assisting the young men. All the show
pigs were washed and the white ones were even powdered.
Tommy and I, with no piece of fence to help, herded his
five unwashed unruly hogs from the unloading area to a
pen. I was dressed in shorts, tennis shoes, shades and a
T shirt. About this time, I learned that the litters
would be judged as they remained in the pen, but a short
time later Tommy and I, at the same time, had to show
individual hogs in two separate show rings. NOW is the
time that previous work with the pigs would have helped.
A lot. (Not a pig lot.)
I managed to get my hog to the show ring, but he (she)
would not stand still. The others boys in the ring kept
their pigs in front of them so the judge could evaluate
them as he walked around the show ring. I started
chasing my hog to try to control him which made him run
even more and this also disrupted all the other pigs.
Several fathers were yelling at me, so I simply gave up
and stood in an empty spot in the ring. When the judge
got to me, he was looking at the ground and asked,
“Where is your pig?” I pointed to him on the other side
of the ring. The judge shrugged, sighed and moved on.
No blue ribbons for the Grosboll hogs today. I felt
lucky to get out with no physical damage.
One more thing. We had to load up the pigs and go home.
(I think I would have left them.) When we got ready to
leave, there were many trucks in line waiting their turn
as there was only one loading chute. Tommy said, “We’re
not waiting that long.” We had a plan. We herded the
hogs from the pen to the parking lot. My job was to get
the hogs, scared and fast I might add, close to the
truck and Tommy would grab them, one at a time of
course, pick them up and throw them in the back of the
pick-up truck. Needless to say we had quite an audience
for this endeavor and very little, if any, voluntary
help. We got out of parking lot with no further
I was not asked again to help show pigs.
PS: Also, knowing Tommy, as we do, makes it more funny.
It is so typical of him. I’m not sure to this day how we
got those pigs through the parking lot and into the