Dailey Carnes pink and black spotted pig Sparky snorted slothfully.
Around him, Pork Chop, Petunia, Pork Skins and other pigs lay lazily in their own muck, grunting here and there, but otherwise enjoying a warm afternoon under the Northern Gila County Fair’s 4-H livestock big top.
Little did they know, in a few short hours they would be sold to the highest bidder, likely for slaughter.
This fact was not lost on Carnes, who still cheerfully ate ice cream near the probably doomed, 250-pound Sparky. Other kids trolled about, reading about each pig’s weight and marveling at the blue and red winners.
Carnes said he plans to put whatever he makes on Sparky into a savings account for college. Last year’s pig brought in close to $1,700.
Sparky, Carnes explained, was named in honor of Arizona State University’s Sun Devils’ mascot — the same university he hopes to attend.
Nearby, Sarah Sprinkle sat less joyfully next to her pig, Charlotte, doing math homework.
“I cry every time,” I have to sell them, Sprinkle said of her pigs.
This is the fifth pig Sprinkle has raised, earning her more than $2,000 after expenses are deducted.
This year, it would be especially hard for Sprinkle to let go of Charlotte since she is a best of show winner.
Charlotte won for her “good muscle structure” and weight, Sprinkle was told by a judge.
Carnes said although he has had fun with Sparky, he is ready to sell him off. A poster board posted hanging near Sparky detailed some of Carnes’ and Sparky’s more touching moments.
“Another great/gross experience with it was one day I was cleaning out its water dish and it decides it wants to get into the water. It gets in the water and splashes and gets me smelling real gross,” Carnes said.
For three days each summer, Payson hosts the Northern Gila County Fair. Normally split up between the casino display hall and the Payson Event Center, this year’s fair was combined at the Payson Event Center.
Most who attended agreed the fair benefited from the new location.
Seven-year fair volunteer Tom Mullaly said he was happy to see everything kept together, making for a more cohesive time for attendees.
“There is a much better turnout this year,” he said.
This year’s 56th annual fair held a host of amusements that included one woman pitching infomercial products, multiple jumping castles for children, pony rides, enough spinning rides to make the toughest of stomachs nauseous, icy cold snow cones and freshly made fry bread. Just make sure you did it in the right order.
In the agriculture and horticulture exhibit tents, a surprising mix of award-winning vegetables and plants were on display.
Fair entrant Marcia Olson said while one flower sprig may not look like much, it could take years and lots of hard work to produce a winning product.
“It is hard work to do that,” she said. “There are some awesome vegetables.”
Olson is a longtime fair entrant, earning ribbons for the last 25 years.
This year, some of Olson’s tomatoes, banana bread and peppers won blue ribbons.
“My tomatoes have taken off all of a sudden this year,” she said.
To all fair entrants, we congratulate you.