SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- As a rookie showman, Dylan Decker never thought he had much of a chance to win the Illinois State Fair Junior Barrow Show.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Decker said after the judge evaluated the barrows in the show and chose his entry, a 269-pound crossbred named “Smalls,” as grand champion. “I was shocked. It’s my first year at the state fair.”
Decker, 11, is from Atkinson, Ill., and has been showing pigs for three years. He also is an active member of the Atkinson Boosters 4H Club.
Decker has not decided how to spend his winnings, but his parents had a few ideas. Saving for college or reinvesting in show pigs were their top two suggestions for the prize.
The Reserve Grand Champion Barrow belongs to Bodee Schlipf. Schlipf, 15, is a member of the El Paso Champions 4H Club and El Paso FFA Chapter. His crossbred barrow “Hoosier” weighs 279 pounds. Schlipf has been showing for nine years.
Decker’s barrow will be in Tuesday’s Sale of Champions, an auction of the fair’s top junior livestock. The sale begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Livestock Center and will be preceded by the auction of the fair’s award-winning commodities.
He’ll be joined at the sale by one of the fair’s most decorated young livestock producers, 17-year-old Sarah DeSchepper of Altona, Ill. DeSchepper Friday became a three-time winner of the Junior Wether Show when her entry, Pop a Top, was named 2010 Grand Champion.
DeSchepper, a member of the ROWVA FFA chapter and Cloverleaf 4H Club, also showed the grand champion wether in 2009 and 2006. Her lamb fetched $7,500 in last year’s Sale of Champions. She is saving her winnings for college.
Jared Whitcomb, 18, of Greenview had the Reserve Grand Champion Wether. Jared is a member of the Greenview Boosters 4H Club and Greenview FFA Chapter and showed the Grand Champion Wether in 2005.