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  • Val T.

Stories from the Fair

Multi-sport athlete Douglass has swine time at fair before starting freshman year


Sports Editor, RTC

Madi Douglass shows off with her fifth overall barrow at the Fulton County 4-H Fair at the Fairgrounds Wednesday. Also pictured, from left: Lucas Douglass, 8, Madi’s brother; Andrew Douglass, 12, Madi’s brother; Madi; Maddi Heinzmann, Fulton County 4-H Fair Queen Second Runner-Up; the judge. That’s Josh Douglass, Madi’s father, feeding the barrow. Madi will be a freshman at Caston this fall.

Madi Douglass is a setter in volleyball, a point guard in basketball and a shortstop in softball.

But while the freshman-to-be at Caston might have a variety of athletic talents, she also showed off a variety of talents at the swine show at the Fulton County 4-H Fair on Wednesday.

She won the following awards:

  • champion Poland China gilt

  • champion Yorkshire gilt

  • reserve champion crossbred gilt

  • reserve champion Yorkshire barrow

  • reserve champion lightweight crossbred barrow

  • third overall gilt

  • fifth overall barrow

In addition to the swine show awards, she also won first place in master showmanship.

In her sixth year, Douglass was asked if this was her greatest day in 4-H.

“It’s definitely up there,” Douglass said. “I’ve had a lot of great days, but this was definitely one of my favorites. … I think today being so good was that we pulled off some things that we weren’t really expecting. And I won best in showmanship, which I haven’t won for a very long time now. So it felt good to finally win.”

Those competing in showmanship must show off a variety of animals while also answering questions from judges.

“It’s a really cool experience to go into the ring and be able to represent your barn and show all these different animals,” Douglass said.

As for the swine show awards, Douglass said she uses observation to determine which feed is best for each pig.

“We just judge them based on how they look,” Douglass said. “Certain feeds can help with certain things in the animals. And so higher percentages can lead to more different things. So we just judge the pigs in whatever we feel they need that feed can help fix or solve when you just try to feed them that.

“It’s trial and error. You just kind of learn. We have friends that have done this for a very long time, so if we need any help, we ask them.”

Douglass said that those raising pigs need to be patient at the start of their 4-H careers.

“At the start, you have to be really patient,” Douglass said. “Especially when you take them outside for the first time because they like to run around. You’ve got to be patient and work them slowly with the whip to where they develop and learn.”

In addition to all that, Douglass hopes that her pigs will exhibit the qualities for which judges are looking.

“Judges have all sorts of different types,” Douglass said.

Douglass was then asked to compare 4-H judges to basketball referees.

“They’re similar because they always make really good decisions, and they do what they think is instinctively best,” Douglass said. “And sometimes, they miss some things, and sometimes they catch some things that most people would not have caught.”

Douglass said she sometimes gets “a little nervous” when she brings her pigs into the pen. Then again, the pigs might also be feeling the nerves.

“It doesn’t really affect me, though, when I’m showing,” Douglass said. “I just focus on the task at hand, so it doesn’t really affect me too much. The pigs, sometimes, it can make them nervous because of people and noise and movement. It’s just crazy, so sometimes it can slip off guard a little bit.”

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