State Fair Market Day for 4-H Students Teaches Tough Lessons

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- For many, the Iowa State Fair is about food, rides, and events, but there's a whole other side of it; the one for those who raise their animals specifically for the fair.

Tuesday is market day at the swine barn and pigs are getting washed, brushed, and walked getting ready for one of the biggest days of the year for many local 4-H students. But for the kids who spent months caring for these animals, giving them up can be hard.

“For the market side, like they obviously after the state fair go on the truck and that’s very heartbreaking,” Sully resident Alyssa Bassett said.

Since just six-years-old, Bassett has been showing pigs. Now she's entering her freshman year of high school and is a part of the Jasper County 4-H Club. But she said saying goodbye to an animal she personally raised every day for months never gets easy.

“Leading up to it it’s ok until the day of and then it’s like everyone is upset because you’re upset,” Bassett said. “Then when they [leave] you’re just a total wreck.”

From feeding and training every day to vaccinating, 4-H students do it all for the animal before they have to say goodbye for good.

Those in the agriculture industry say although it’s hard, the emotional experience is an important one.

“I think it teaches them a lot of great lessons of responsibility, commitment to a project,” Baxter’s Brice Conover said. “It’s a commitment to get up and do chores and care for the animals and they can learn a lot about the food animal production and what we raise pigs for and know it’s an important part of animal agriculture.”

Lessons that now 4-H students like Bassett, can understand and appreciate.

“You’re helping people across the world [eat], like feed the people with your animal,” Bassett said.

The 4-H Swine market show is Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. at the Swine Barn at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

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