AUSTIN EDITION -- Barrow show organizers hope to pack 'em in

National event begins with all-you-can-eat pork feed

By Jim Troyer

For the Post-Bulletin

Hogs competing in the 57th annual National Barrow Show will be staying in classier quarters when the show starts Monday. Three new buildings and 800 new pens await exhibitors from 25 states and some foreign countries.

There will be new treats for people, too. The first one, a National Barrow Show All-You-Can-Eat Pork Feed, is set for noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The event is open to the public at $5 for adults and $3 for kids 5 to 12.


"Everybody's encouraged to come out Sunday," said Sandy Forstner, Austin Chamber director and member of the Austin Area National Barrow Show Committee. "We're hoping for 500 people."

Because the event coincides with the Vikings-Packers football game, the pork feed is billed as a barbecue tailgate party. Two television screens will be put up, so that people can enjoy both the game and the cookoff. It will be held in the Jaycees Beer Garden.

"There will be room for everybody," Forstner said.

The cookoff is a real competition and will include top local pork cookers as well as others from across the nation. Sponsors include Austin Utilities, the Pork Checkoff, Geneva Meats and Piggy Blue's Bar-B-Que.

Forstner is hoping Austin residents will come out for the cookoff and then come back Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to see some of the judging in Crane Pavilion.

Beginning 8 a.m. Monday, hundreds of juniors and seniors from colleges throughout the Midwest will join in a collegiate judging contest.

An Individual Market Hog Show, beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, is a special feature of this year's show. Local producers will enter crossbred or purebred barrows and gilts and will be eligible to compete for $500 Grand Champion Barrow and $500 Grand Champion Gilt premiums.

Judging of truckloads follows at 3 p.m. and continues through eight breeds Tuesday and Wednesday.


Produced by the National Association of Swine Records, the NBS is the longest-running eight-breed event in the nation.

The show has been a leader in producing a better line of pork, said Larry Rasch of the Mower County Fair Board.

"Research and genetics come together in this event to make the industry better," he said.

This year the market hog show class will feature lean hogs that today's consumers are demanding.

"Producers have got to meet changing demands," Rasch said.

College and high school 4-H judging teams are coming all the way from California and Oregon this year. Some states hold their own judging contests.

"If a 4-H team wins the contest, it also wins a trip to the show in Austin," Rasch said. "That's another indication of the prestige of the National Barrow Show."

The show also is a boon to the Austin economy, said Holly LaVallie, executive director of the Austin Convention and Visitors bureau.


"This show is growing," she said. "It's really going to be exciting this year."

The three-day event fills motels in Austin and Albert Lea and packs local restaurants and stores.

"The economic impact is huge," La Vallie said.

Cost of the event, about $15,000, is coming from area businesses this year instead of from local governments. Sponsorship packages sold for $100 to $500.

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