CORTLAND, Ohio – Ryan Bell looks at the pile of ribbon and iridescent columns before him and wonders where he’ll put them.
The showcase at home is already full, he says.
He and sister Alison will have to find another home for the bevy of trophies the duo brought home from last week’s Trumbull County Fair.
Winning ways. The Bells – Ryan, 16, and Alison, 10 – continued the winning ways their older sister, Jen, started years ago at the fair by dominating the competition in this year’s market steer contest.
Alison showed the grand champion – an animal that outweighed her by a good 1,200 pounds – and Ryan showed the reserve.
Showmen. In the market hog competition, Alison raised the champion carcass project.
She also came out on top in the showmanship contest for her junior age bracket, and Ryan topped the intermediate division.
The duo is proud of the records they boast: Both are undefeated in hog showmanship.
Ryan has groomed and led his hog to the blue ribbon eight years straight, and Alison, in her second year of 4-H, is following his lead.
“At home we practice, with someone being the judge and watching,” Alison says of the family’s daily preparations.
“And we walk them all the way down the driveway to the road and back.”
“The neighbors know now that it’s OK when the pigs are out,” she said.
Love of animals. Ryan and Alison claim they truly love working with hogs and steers, something they say has affected their lives for years.
They have given up sports and sleepovers to work toward the golden week – fair week – each year.
“There’s just this kind of thrill in the showring,” Ryan says.
State fair. This year they’ve also got four pigs to exhibit at the state fair.
Ryan has dreams of winning a barrow championship in the Poland China or crossbred divisions. He’s hoping his timing is just right.
“You’re not going to win every show. It’s just the judge’s opinion on one day,” Ryan says.
“It’s hard work but this is what our family does together,” he said.
Working hard. Bell said he’s got a lot of work under his belt with their champions this year.
“You can’t buy a champion. You’ve got to do your homework, turn up a lot of stones before you find the right animal,” he said.
His parents, Stan and Leanne, have driven him and his sisters across the state and into Indiana to look at young stock just to turn around and come home empty-handed, he said.
“You have to be patient and look around to find the perfect animal,” he said.
Bell also mentioned buying the right feed and spending plenty of time rinsing, washing and grooming as keys to success.
“We just keep at it and hope for the best,” Ryan said.
“Our goal is to learn something new every time we’re in the ring.”
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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