Fairs & Festivals

Manatee County Fair swine sale, dairy cattle sale draws crowd

PALMETTO -- It was a father-son moment at the Manatee County Fair swine sale Saturday.

Haile Middle school sixth-grader Lance Jackson walked with his 232-pound hog Ham'a Montana back to her pen, blue ribbon in his hand and a smile on his face.

Six dollars a pound and his proud father, Craig Jackson, was beaming.

"I raised her," Lance said. "It was really fun sometimes and really hard other times."

Ham'a Montana was one of a few hogs that actually lived at the school while being raised by students in the Future Farmers of America program.

Lance's day would start at about 7 a.m. to get to school early and feed his hog. Many school days, he would have to stay late with her, too, he added.

For Lance and his dad, this was a brand new expe

rience, Craig Jackson said. A homebuilder and owner of his company, Jackson Construction and Design, he said he didn't have experience raising hogs either.

"It was a learning process and it was definitely difficult," he said.

Hundreds watched, while hogs raised by youth from around the county were auctioned in the Mosaic Arena at the Manatee County Fairgrounds.

Lakewood Ranch freshman Isabelle Chamness also walked away with a blue ribbon, after her 285-pound hog, Moonshine, sold for $3 a pound.

Isabelle had been part of FFA since she was in sixth-grade, but had never participated in any of the youth livestock exhibits at the fair.

"My sister raised a pig a couple years ago and it looked like fun," she said.

The experience lived up to her expectations and Isabelle said she plans to exhibit again next year,

She said she had worked hard over the past six months to raise Moonshine.

Mornings would start at 6 a.m. so that she had time to feed him before school. After school, she would arrive home about 3 p.m. and it was feeding time again. She also worked with him and spent time in his pen with him, she said.

"He likes when I rub his belly," Isabelle said.

Her father, Brian Chamness, a cattleman with SMR Farms, was happy to watch his daughters go through the experience and gain responsibility.

"They learned what my day's like," he said.

After the swine sale, many of the dairy cattle that youth had exhibited the day before also were going to be shown.

Clarabelle the cow was enjoying a fresh bale of hay that had just arrived.

Nolan Middle School student Carly Lynch watched as she ate and then walked her back to her pen.

Carly was part of a team of four students who helped to raise the Holstein dairy cattle shown by classmate Kaylee Hartwig. Clarabelle didn't show as well as they had hoped, ultimately would not be sold. The experience was still worthwhile, they said.

"It was really fun because I've been around cows since I was little," Carly said.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.