National Barrow show builds industry’s future; Blooming Prairie girl, 12, places 4th in class in her 2nd year

Published 9:04 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

The life of a 12-year-old girl who raises show pigs is a full one.

Alexis Steckelberg of Blooming Prairie, for example, was an exhibitor at the just-completed National Barrow Show in Austin. On Tuesday, she got the day off from school to show her gilt. She went from guiding the 280-pound hog through the show to returning to Blooming Prairie to join her volleyball team for a match, to going north of the town to do her chores at the family’s farm. They raise cattle.

Her grandfather, Rick Klemmesen of Blooming Prairie, has the hog farm, where her excitement for hogs bloomed.

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The show was the culmination of a year’s work at that farm, where Lexie and her brother, Grady, chose their guilts, cared for them, walked them twice daily to train them for the show and taking care of their skin, their mother, Tricia Steckelberg said.

The audience at the breeders auction looks on Wednesday during the final hours of the National Barrow Show at the Mower County Fairgrounds.

In the end, Lexie’s gilt took fourth in her class. Grady’s was seventh.

“They did great,” their mom said. “They learned a lot …  you always learn a lot.”

The National Barrow Show completed its 71st year in Austin on Wednesday with the breeding sales, which followed days of competition in a variety of classes.

The Steckelbergs brought their gilts home for breeding next year’s competitors, mom said.

Lexie’s involvement in raising hogs goes much deeper than the show, however.

Getting judged at the National Barrow Show at the Mower County Fairgrounds.

“Lexie is really excited about pigs in general, but Lexie takes a big interest.” said her mother. “She helps with the breeding, the farrowing of baby pigs, weaning … She is pretty involved.”

And at the show, she was a student of the industry.

“I think the other neat thing about the national show is they get to meet breeders from all over the county and talk to people who don this for a living,” her mother said.

Klemmesen has attended the show for many years, he said. It’s nice to be able to go just down the road for a national show, he added.

As auctioneer Chad Day, top right, works on getting a larger purchase price from the audience at the breeders auction Wednesday during the final hours of the National Barrow Show, a Berkshire is guided about the show ring.

This year, he bought a boar to use for next year’s show pigs.

“I think the boar I was really interested in went for $11,000,” he added, noting that the prices for breeding stock are all over the board.

Hog farmers use shows like this to improve their stock, but what those improvements are tend to vary year to year. It’s like your girlfriend or wife’s clothes, they change style each year so you have to buy new, he said.