MILLINGPORT — The N.C. State Fair completed its 11-day run in Raleigh complete with a huge midway, traditional fair foods and competitions in categories ranging from hot pepper displays to professional photography.
For 150 years, agriculture has been celebrated at the fair — from row crops to livestock. For many, the agriculture competitions are the highlight of the State Fair. The competitions include vegetable size contests, ornate presentations of specimens, canning and drying, and textile transformations. In the produce competition, a 1,458.5-pound pumpkin grown by Elijah Meck of Randolph County and a watermelon weighing 316 pounds grown by Todd Dawson of Wake County took the top prizes in the Great Pumpkin and Watermelon Weigh-Off. Both plump specimens shattered fair weight records.
While the State Fair celebrates our state’s diverse agricultural offerings, no competition has a higher place of honor than the livestock winners. North Carolina is a top producer of poultry and hogs and has a growing cattle and dairy industry. As fairgoers meander through the fruit and vegetable displays in the Exposition Center in the heart of the fairgrounds, the culmination of the competition displays hold the top cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys and chickens grown in North Carolina.
This year Stanly County Brothers Eric and Griffin Huneycutt were some of the most decorated winners at the State Fair. Eric Huneycutt captured Grand Champion honors in the Market Barrow category, Supreme Champion in the Market Hog category and first place in Market Barrow. Eric’s brother Griffin Huneycutt was Reserve Grand Champion in Market Barrow, Reserve Supreme Champion in Market Hog and took home five other first place awards. Griffin’s final victory Grand Champion Junior Market Barrow was featured in the Expo Center as one of the top hogs in the state and sold for $19,500. The barrow category includes only male pigs between 230 and 290 pounds. The market hog competition is open to male and female pigs between 230 and 290 pounds, according to the N.C. State Fair competition guide.
Griffin’s almost $20,000 pig was born on March 10 of this year. Huneycutt and his family bought the 50-pound piglet from breeders in California.
The two brothers have been showing hogs at the State Fair for five years. They have also done shows around the South and won some county shows and jackpots, but this is the first show of such massive success. This year was the last that Griffin was eligible to participate in the junior competition.
“Market hog shows are kind of like dog shows,” Eric Huneycutt said. The brothers were partners in raising their award-winning swine.
The pigs are judged on their muscle mass, joint structure, their walk, bone mass and appearance.
Their winning barrow weighed in at a hefty weight of 284 pounds. These hogs are bred to be sold off to be made into food.
Since these hogs are meant to be eaten, their weight and size is important. But, the hogs joints have to be in the correct position and have to be able to move to be able to qualify for the competition.
“They don’t actually give a percentage of muscle mass but just based off visual this hog was about 60-70 percent muscle mass,” Eric Huneycutt said.
Griffin and Eric both attend NC State University.
The N.C. Pork Council, Smithfield Farmland, Prestage Farms, Hog Slat, Inc., Duplin Marketing and Mt. Olive Livestock combined to pay $19,500 in an auction for Griffin’s prize-winning pig. Of the $19,500 spent on the top hog, 60 percent will go to Griffin and the remaining 40 percent goes to support youth scholarships and youth livestock educational programs in North Carolina.
Junior winners in the N.C. State Fair livestock shows drew a record $182,500 for the top steers, barrows, lambs, goats and turkeys in the Junior Livestock Sale of Champions at the N.C. State Fair on Oct. 14.
“We are proud that so many businesses and organizations turned out to support the hard work of all these junior exhibitors,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The money raised will go a long way toward college educations, scholarships and educational outreach.”
The Huneycutt brothers plan to continue doing shows in the future including some shows in Florida, Georgia and Kansas City within the next year.