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Showmen ready for livestock sale

Proceeds support scholarships, youth projects

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SMITHFIELD — Some 129 youths from across Johnston County are registered to participate in the annual Johnston County Youth Livestock Show and Sale set for April 22-24.

The event will take place at the Johnston County Livestock Arena, 520 County Home Road.

“These young people will be exhibiting steers, heifers, market hogs, market lambs and market goats,” said Johnston County Cooperative Extension livestock agent Dan Wells. “Following the show, the animals will be sold to packers and the youth will participate in a support auction that generates funds for the children, most of which is banked for future projects or college expenses.”

Judges will rank the animals on market quality and the children will also be scored on showmanship; how well they present their animals.

Steers and heifers will show at 5 p.m. Monday, April 22. There are 15 steers and 22 heifers entered.

Lambs and goats will be shown at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively on Tuesday, April 23. There will be roughly 25 lambs and 55 meat goats in the show.

About 85 market hogs will be shown at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 24.

“Community support for the sale is outstanding and it is supported by over 200 buyers each year, including businesses, farms, physicians and individuals,” said Wells. The sale grossed more than $140,000 in 2018.

At the conclusion of each species’ show, a fun event called Children’s Revenge showmanship will be held for that species, according to Wells.

4-H and Future Farmers of America livestock-judging contest will be held at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 23.

On Wednesday evening, buyers and participants will partake in the buyers’ meal, a catered barbecue and chicken dinner sponsored in part by the Johnston County Farm Bureau. Showmanship winners will be recognized at 6 p.m. that day.

Several young showmen were busy last Thursday getting their animals ready for this year’s show and sale.

Hunter Lee, 18, is the son of Dan and Laura Lee of Smithfield. Lee has been showing livestock since he was 11 years old and his entries in this year’s show are cross-bred market hogs.

He does not name the animals he is raising, although he did name them when he was younger.

“Every pig is different, just like a person, and they have different attitudes,” said Lee.

Lee attends Cleveland High School and in addition to raising and showing livestock, he enjoys playing soccer and is a member of the track team. He is a member of the Black Creek 4-H Club.

Lee’s grandfather, James W. Lee, was a Duroc hog breeder, his father showed livestock and his brother, 21-year-old Garrett, raised hogs as well.

Lee hopes to attend N.C. State University and study crop and soil science.

He’s trying to increase the weight of his best pig over the next couple of weeks with a mixture of feed that includes cornmeal, oats and molasses.

“We will trim his hair, give him a bath and style him up a week before the show,” said Lee.

Dan Lee said the show and sale experience teaches lots of life lessons.

“It teaches responsibility and improves the decision-making process,” he said.

Aubrey Diaz, 7, is the daughter of Dominic and Kelly Diaz of Benson. She is in the second grade at Four Oaks Elementary School and this is her first year of showing livestock.

Aubrey will be showing two Boer crossed goats this year, one named Little Horns and one named Speckled Ears.

“Aubrey wanted to show cows but cows are a little too big and her mother was nervous,” said mother Kelly Diaz. “She really loves these animals.”

Aubrey is a member of the McGee’s Crossroads 4-H Club and among her other hobbies is playing softball. She hopes to one day become a veterinarian and would like to attend N.C. State University.

Aubrey gets up each morning to begin feeding and caring for her goats. She said it’s important to get them into certain stances in order to please the judges.

“All of this takes the whole family,” said Kelly Diaz. “It is hard work, but it helps to teach responsibility. We are proud of Aubrey and we will be cheering for her at the show.”

For more information about the Johnston County Youth Livestock Show and Sale, call the Johnston County Cooperative Extension Office at 919-989-5380 or visit