HARRISBURG, Pa. – George Hunter of Stoneboro, Pa., celebrated a golden anniversary last week.
No, it wasn’t his wedding anniversary – which, incidentally, he and his wife Evelyn surpassed 13 years ago. Hunter is exhibiting at his 50th Keystone International Livestock Exposition (KILE), also in its 50th year.
The 89-year-old Mercer County resident has committed his life to the livestock industry, and more than half of his life to KILE, showing sheep every year.
Hunter is the only farmer to have exhibited at all 50 shows. As a result, he was inducted into the KILE Hall of Fame in 1994 and the 1997 KILE Suffolk Show was dedicated in his name.
It’s the people, not sheep. He says the relationships he’s made in the industry keep him coming back annually.
“It’s the people you meet and get to know, that I really enjoy,” Hunter said.
But he admits he likes the competition. “Oh sure, we all like that too!”
Through the years, Hunter has raised, shown and judged many species including draft horses, hogs, Shorthorn cattle, chickens, goats, and various sheep breeds such as Dorsets, Horned Dorsets, Merinos, Cheviots and Suffolks.
This year, he brought three Merino sheep and a wool fleece to be judged at the show. His sheep showed well and his fleece was first in its class.
Next in line. His family has followed in his footsteps, expressing the same love for showing animals. In fact, five of his nine children, five of his 15 grandchildren and four of eight great-grandchildren were at the show this week to help him celebrate.
“It’s the name of the game,” he said. “The younger ones keep me involved now.”
Broad influence. His influence with the younger generation reaches beyond his own family. Dustin Heeter, a Penn State livestock extension educator who grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania, shares fond memories of George Hunter.
“George is a heck of a guy,” said Dustin. “I remember showing cattle at the Stoneboro Fair as a kid, and he was always willing to sit down and talk about showing Shorthorn cattle with us younger guys.”
The list of Hunter’s accomplishments is long, but perhaps most noteworthy, he is serving his 44th consecutive year as secretary-treasurer of the Pennsylvania Suffolk Association.
He and his family were honored as the 1983 Pennsylvania Farm Show Family of the Year, and in 1997, he received the National Service Award from the National Suffolk Sheep Association.
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