Mylie Lempea’s largest pig, “Boomer,” wasn’t like the other swine at the Clatsop County Fair. Not every pig knows how to sit on command.
“I can get him to sit with a marshmallow,” said Lempea, 11. “It’s hilarious.”
This was Lempea’s second year at the fair. She came with Hot Iron — her 4-H team from Knappa — and brought two pigs, Boomer and “Hank.”
The fifth-grader has worked with the two animals almost every day since she first got them in early spring. Typically, breeders tell 4-Hers about the pig’s health, weight and vaccination history before the pigs are chosen, but the process was different for Lempea.
“Boomer came right up to me,” she said. “I didn’t even have to pick.”
Back in February, the pigs were “a little fatter than a loaf of bread and so cute,” she said. Now, at 5 months old, Boomer weighs 286 pounds and Hank weighs 247.
“They grow crazy fast,” she said.
Lempea herself weighs just a fraction of her pigs, and she slid between the green pig stalls with ease. Her friend and classmate, Penny Lyles, had pigs in the neighboring stall. The girls helped one another keep their animals clean throughout the fair.
“I help her take her pigs to the wash racks,” Lyles said. “And she helps me take my pigs to the wash racks.”
Lempea kept her pigs extra clean with intermittent baby wipe baths.
The girls helped each other guide the animals around the fair, using small black straps and their own bony knees to get pigs in and out of their stalls.
Being part of Hot Iron has taught Lempea a lot about teamwork and responsibility. Their year-round meetings hold them accountable for their duties, which include feeding the pigs breakfast and dinner, washing them regularly and taking them on walks to practice for showing.
Though each 4-Her was only allowed to sell one pig at the fair, they can make connections they can sell their second pig to afterward.
The fair can be bittersweet for Lempea, as she has to say goodbye to Boomer and Hank.
“It’s kind of what they’re meant to do,” she said. “Someone gets to go eat it.”
The fruits of Lempea’s labor have paid off outside the pig pen, as well.
This year, she entered the photography competition, where two of her pictures won awards. The first, a photo of a driftwood teepee she took on the beach, won a blue ribbon. The second, her favorite picture, is a close-up portrait of her family cat. That picture was reserve champion.
Lempea also won a blue ribbon for the yellow dahlias she grew this spring. Her largest dahlia received a special honor and was selected for state, which means it will be recognized at the Oregon State Fair if it doesn’t wilt before then.
Her apples, blueberries and peas were also awarded blue ribbons. She’s especially proud of her peas, which were named division champions. She hand-picked the best five pea pods she could find, and her peas were judged on size, color and similarity.
“It’s pretty cool this year for my peas,” she said. “I’ve never had division champion before.”