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Preparing animals for Garfield County Fair takes sacrifice

Stubborn swine assaults local father during recent weigh-in

A young 4-H kid hangs out with his pig while waiting for the weigh-in Tuesday at the 2021 Garfield County Fair.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Preparing fair animals for market weight takes all sorts of sacrifices: long hours, physical and mental exhaustion and, in the case of one local father, bones.

On Monday, 44-year-old Rifle man Jason Shoup broke his right foot while helping weigh his children’s 4-H pigs.

Standing beside the official animal weigh-in station at the Garfield County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, crutches wedged below his arms and a green cast wrapped around his foot up to the ankle, Shoup recalled the incident.



He said it all started with one stubborn swine not wanting to go to the scale.

A young 4-H kid sprays his brother's pig to help keep it cool while waiting for the weigh-in on Tuesday at the 2021 Garfield County Fair.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“He ended up wedging my ankle between him and a tee post, and it really wasn’t that big a deal,” Shoup casually reminisced. “I went to push him away from that tee post to get my ankle out, and as soon I pushed him away from that tee post, my ankle popped.”

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Slightly ignoring the natural alarm of a potential bone fracture or break, Shoup said he went back to attempting to get the unperturbed piggy back onto the scale.

He gave the pork another push, and a second pop came from the same ankle, he said. This time, Shoup said he thought his daughter Dakota deliberately hit him on the back of his ankle with a pegboard.

That of course wasn’t the case, and the Shoups went back to trying to escort the mulish pig onto the scale.

“Just as I turned him into the scale, I grabbed the top of the scale and with both knees on his butt went to push it, and that frickin’ ankle popped (again),” Shoup said.

After painfully slouching toward the ground, Shoup finally threw in the towel.

Young 4-H kids walk their sheep to the scale for the weigh-in on Tuesday afternoon at the 2021 Garfield County Fair.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“I’m like, ‘I gotta sit here, I’m gonna puke,’” Shoup said.

Shoup was eventually taken to a nearby medical facility for X-rays, where he was told that he suffered a break to his right talus — a bone found at the top of the human foot — as well as “something going on with his ankle.”

The good news? The Shoup youths’ swine are nice and hefty. The purebred Yorkshire weighed in at a respectable 270 pounds.

“He doesn’t like our scales very much,” Dakota said of her pig. “And so my dad got smashed.”

A small price to pay for an otherwise lucrative event, additional pigs raised and trained by the Shoups for fair time also weighed in on Tuesday at hefty, favorable sizes. This included Dakota’s cross-breed at 235 pounds.

To put things in perspective, Dakota started raising her piglets in March. Work includes teaching the pigs how to drive, getting them to walk, skin conditioning and devising feed plans, among other objectives.

Depending on the buyer during Saturday’s livestock sale, swine can go for top dollar. Dakota, a former 2019 grand champion participant, sold her prize pig for $17 a pound.

Ideal weights for pigs at fair time range from 270 to 280 pounds, so a good price for those pigs ranges from $4,590 to $4,760.

“All your time and stuff,” Dakota said of the livestock auction, “it’s rewarding at the end.”

Mother Ragina Shoup said the accrued revenue is usually reinvested toward her kids’ college funds as well to support further raising animals.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but seeing the people here and meeting the people, we’re all willing to pitch in and help each other as much as we can,” Dakota said. “And I feel like it’s really good for our community.”

Among beef, lamb and goat, at least 92 market swine were weighed in on Tuesday. As numerous 4-H participants waited in a long line of pens, animals bleating and grunting upon sawdust and wood chips, Dakota’s younger brother Colton Shoup turned out to be a realist in regards to his father’s misfortune.

“I feel bad for him,” Colton Shoup said. “But it just happens with livestock.”

Jason Shoup has been working pretty much his whole life with livestock. But when asked what he’s now learned from working with a pig, he said, “They’re solid.”

“I’ve been stepped on by horses and cows and everything else,” he said. “But this is the first time I’ve broken anything with a pig.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.


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