Pandemic Won’t Stop 75-Year Streak
Jim Grass hasn't missed the hog show at the Steele County Fair in nearly eight decades. And even though the fair is canceled in 2020, a microscopic virus was not going to keep him from attending the Steele County 4-H swine show, "I haven't missed a 4-H county fair hog show since 1945."
I bumped into Grass Monday morning outside the show arena as I was setting up for a radio show with fair manager Scott Kozelka. I asked Grass to lead off the broadcast and share some memories.
Grass, a former superintendent of the hog department and former fair board member, began showing hogs as a kid in 4-H in 1937 and attended the fair for the first time in 1929 and hasn't missed a fair since. Though the fair has missed him a time or two. The fair was canceled at least once during World War II and then there's this year due to the pandemic.
Grass was a farmer for years, raising hogs, "In my day, just about every farm had some pigs on it. Nowadays you've either got thousands or you don't have any."
He says some things have stayed the same when it comes to showing animals, "The basic thing that you want to do when you're showing is present your animal no matter what it is so the judge sees it at its best. If you're a good showman and there's something wrong with your animal, you'll try and hide that. And if there's something really good you'll make sure the judges see that."
He says he tries picking which hog will get the highest grade from the judges, "I'll be looking at these pigs from pretty close. I always like to see if I can pick out the same one that the judge does. I don't always agree with him though...Most of the time I probably do."
Grass was a 2007 inductee into the Steele County Fair's Livestock Hall of Fame. Regarding his involvement throughout his life in the fair, "I guess when you start out going to the first fair when you were still in the baby's basket...you start to get interested in it."
He says he remembers when there were only two food stands on the fairgrounds. In 2019 there were about 100.
He really enjoyed his time as a superintendent of the swine department, "They used to have lots of good times in that barn always...I guess the best part of was the people you got to know and visiting during the fair."
I saw Grass after the hog show Tuesday afternoon. He was all smiles. And he kept the streak alive of attending the hog show every year.