Back to Back: Local Girl Wins Farm Show Title for Second Time | Local News
Earning a grand champion banner at the Pennsylvania Farm Show is no easy task. Doing it twice seems almost impossible. But that’s exactly what Venango native Alaina Webster has accomplished.
The 15-year-old won the coveted Junior Market Hog Grand Champion banner at this year’s Farm Show, giving her back-to-back titles.
Webster was named Grand Champion in the same category at the 2020 show. Live contests were not held during the 2021 Pennsylvania Agricultural Show, which was held virtually due to the pandemic, making Webster’s wins back-to-back. .
This time around, Webster was competing against a pig she named Shark – so named because of the blue and gray coloration of the pig’s dark spots. She bought him from Hilty Show Pigs, a Mount Pleasant breeder and spent about five months raising him before competition.
“He really stood out on the sale when we bought him and I’ve worked with him every day since we bought him,” Webster said.
Webster said Shark had good structure and was a good pet, and she had trouble training him for the show.
“He basically knew what to do when I first got him,” she said. “He knew how to walk with his head up and what we were driving.”
Webster knew that when she entered the competition, she had a competition pig on her hands. Prior to the Farm Show, Shark had competed and won titles at the Pennsylvania Youth Livestock Expo.
Despite everything, the competition promised to be tough at the Farm Show.
“There were a few other pigs there that were also competitive and that made it very difficult for the judge to decide,” Webster said.
However, much like his pig Batman who won at the 2020 show, Shark managed to outplay the rest of the pigs and convince the judges. Winning the grand champion banner came as a shock to Webster, who admitted that although she knew she had a good pig, she was nervous heading into the contest.
“It was really surprising and shocking, and it was something we never thought we would do before, let alone do it again,” she said.
Pig farming is something Webster is very dedicated to. She runs a “10 sow operation” on the family farm, Webster Family Livestock. As she plans to go to college to study nursing, she hopes to continue herding and rearing pigs alongside her future profession.
Webster is president of the Champion Drive 4-H Club, a group that counts children from across the county as members. Jill Haemer, the club’s leader, said Webster was very outgoing and helpful, and was willing to help other club members, regardless of age. The club has members ranging from 7 to 18, but Haemer said Webster is still able to help.
As for winning the grand champion banner again, Haemer had nothing but praise for Webster.
“Honestly, I think it’s pretty awesome for someone to win the state fair,” she said. “One year is pretty cool, but to do it two years is just awesome.”
Of course raising pigs is something that runs in Webster’s blood. She took over the practice from her mother Jean Webster, who in turn had done it with her mother. However, even Jean sees how dedicated her daughter is to the practice.
“It’s truly amazing to see the hard work and dedication she has with the animals,” Jean said. “His heart and soul are there.”
Jean’s only wish was that her own mother could still be there to see her granddaughter succeed. But, somehow, she feels she is.
As for Alaina, she plans to continue showing pigs at the farm show until she is no longer eligible at 18. After all, she loves competition so much.
“I love the experiences you have, the connections you make with your animals and also the people you meet,” she said.
Only time will tell if she turns her pair of grand champion victories into a hat-trick of swine success.
Sean P. Ray can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected].