Brian and Sherry Kennedy of Duplin County are devoted N.C. State fairgoers. Not only do they pack up the family to attend the annual State Fair, but they are keen livestock competitors, especially when it comes to showing swine.
Brian Kennedy’s passion for livestock started at a young age.
“My life has always been ingrained in agriculture. Growing up, I was a part of FFA. At first, I started by showing steers and heifers and then moved into swine showmanship.”
Brian is the finishing production manager at Prestage Farms where he has worked since 1991. His job at Prestage Farms, one of the nation’s largest family-owned and operated pork producers, first sparked his interest in swine showing. After working with commercial pigs, he took his knowledge and began to use it for livestock competitions.
The family owns and operates two finishing farms in Duplin County: Cabin Farm, a 1,224-head operation and Potters Hill Farm, a 2,448-head operation. A typical day starts early in the morning. The first thing is feeding the pigs; throughout the day, they focus on walking, working and training the pigs. By evening it’s time for them to be fed again and cleaned from the day’s hard work. This is in preparation for the live showing in October at the State Fair. Once at the fair, the pigs are entered and weighed. While waiting for their time to shine, the pigs are fed, washed and pampered before their time in the show ring.
The N.C. State Fair swine livestock competition includes pigs that are born and raised in North Carolina. These competitions display the dedication of some of the hardest working breeders of show pigs in North Carolina, such as the Kennedy family.
Pigs are judged not only on appearance but their breed genetics as well. The desired pig is both heavily muscled and lean while also meeting standards set by commercial hog producers. Judges also look for a healthy pig. This means a well-fed, brushed and washed pig with active and bright eyes and healthy skin and hair. Once in the ring, judges also pay close attention to the hog’s training, age, body volume and skeletal structure.
“The year we won the swine show, which I believe was 2017,” said Kennedy, “that was such a proud moment for me. My whole family loves the fair; we go every year. It’s honestly like a vacation for us. I personally can’t wait to get my hands on the mini donuts, but everybody has their own favorite little thing. For my wife, it’s the ribbon fries.”
If you’re planning on attending this year’s state fair, check out the livestock judging schedule for the list of daily livestock shows. The swine shows take place on Saturday, Oct. 15, and Sunday, Oct. 16. The popular Sale of Champions is held Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. Come check out the pride and work that goes into showing at the fair. Don’t forget to grab some mini donuts or ribbon fries on the way.