An announcer shouts prices into a microphone. A yellow card flies upward. Then another. And another. The pungent aroma of livestock pierces the air, and if you listen closely enough, you can hear the faint sound of pigs grunting in the background.
Where else could you be than Saturday’s Manatee County Fair swine sale?
Nearly 400 people showed up to the much-anticipated event this year in search of enough pig to feed an entire family for a year. Of the 133 pigs, all of them weighed well over 200 pounds, and for that the young farmers earned big bucks.
Early in the auction, Joie Morgan’s 232-pounder sold for $10 a pound. Later, Emma Albert’s 266-pound hog sold for a whopping $13.50 a pound.
On average, pigs sold for around $6 per pound, but as charismatic auctioneer Joey Davis says, “it’s just money, folks.” It’s true, but more importantly, that money goes to support hard-working kids.
“We want to reward these guys. You’re not buying an animal. You’re investing in the life of a young person,” Davis said.
Buyers could be sure of one thing — the pig they left with was given the best care possible. Children from the sixth grade to seniors in high school spent months rearing the pigs from piglets into full-grown swine.
Many children build a special bond with their pig friends during that time. This year was Quincy Jones’ second time selling a pig at the swine sale, but it was still a bittersweet experience for him.
“For me, it’s more sad than happy,” said Quincy, an eighth-grader at Lincoln Middle School who spent months raising his pig, Apollo, before it was auctioned off to his grandmother for $7.75 a pound.
“I had more than one buyer, but I guess my grandma wanted him the most,” Quincy said.
Sixth-grader Caase Phillips sold his very first pig at the auction Saturday. He also said he had mixed emotions about parting with an animal that had earned a place in his heart.
“It’s both sad and exciting,” said Caase, a student at Palmetto Charter School. “Raising Kong was fun and rewarding. It’s a pain in the butt sometimes, and sometimes it’s not.”
Raising Kong for four months required Caase’s complete attention, according to his mother, Darla Phillips.
“You’ve gotta dedicate all your time for those four months,” she said. “No vacation, no trips.”
In that time, Caase fed Kong apples, bathed him and took him on walks, among other things. Quincy said his porker required lots of work as well, but he genuinely enjoyed just spending time with him.
“I spent a lot of time with him,” Quincy said. “On the weekends, I’d go up there for a couple hours and just sit there with him all day.”
Emma’s pig may have earned the most money, pound for pound. Richard Colyer and Lee Crosby, who are some of Emma’s family friends, teamed up to purchase the pig for around $3,500. They said the most important aspect of the event is how their charity can contribute to the lives of good children.
“We were involved in the rearing of the pig and knew it when it just this big, but supporting kids is the main thing,” Crosby said.
Noon — Fair Gates Open
Noon — Exhibit Buildings Open
Noon — Show-Me Safari Petting Zoo Opens
1:00 p.m. — Belle City Amusements Midway Opens
1:00 p.m. — Wade Henry
1:00 p.m. — Show-Me Safari Pig Races
1:30 p.m. — Disc-Connected K-9s
2:00 p.m. — Amazing Anastasini Circus
2:00 p.m. — Parrish Playworks
2:30 p.m. — Wade Henry
2:30 p.m. — RC Racers
2:45 p.m. — Parrish Playworks
3:00 p.m. — Show-Me Safari Pig Races
3:00 p.m. — Rock-It the Robot
4:00 p.m. — Disc-Connected K-9s
4:30 p.m. — RC Racers
5:00 p.m. — Show-Me Safari Pig Races
5:00 p.m. — Rock-It the Robot
5:00 p.m. — Wade Henry
5:30 p.m. — Amazing Anastasini Circus
6:00 p.m. — RC Racers
6:00 p.m. — The KeysTones
6:30 p.m. — Wade Henry
7:00 p.m. — Colton Dixon
7:00 p.m. — Show-Me Safari Pig Races
7:30 p.m. — Disc-Connected K-9s
8:00 p.m. — Amazing Anastasini Circus
8:00 p.m. — Rock-It the Robot
8:30 p.m. — RC Racers
9:00 p.m. — Show-Me Safari Pig Races
9:00 p.m. — Wade Henry