TORRINGTON – Goshen County youth continue to put the area on the map, and Torrington’s Paige Miller is doing her part.
Earlier this month, the local teen exhibited the Grand Champion barrow at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa – a feat never before accomplished by a Wyoming resident and with a breed never before named overall champion.
Miller, who will begin her junior year at Torrington High School this fall, has showed animals – including pigs, cattle and, at one point, goats – for eight years.
“I show at the Goshen County Fair, Wyoming State Fair, big national shows, Colorado jackpot circuits – that’s where I started showing,” Miller said. “In the early spring, the weekends that Colorado doesn’t have a show, my dad and I will load up the truck and go to Iowa, even as far as Indiana sometimes (to shows).
“You meet a lot of people and they have respect for you to go that far to show your hogs,” she said. “My favorite part, when you go to the shows, are the connections you make – the people you meet and the lifelong memories.”
Miller has competed in the World Pork Expo four times. She’s earned third overall crossbred barrow and showed plenty of class winners and division placers, even receiving third overall Landrace barrow in addition to her grand champion Chester this year.
“But nothing quite close to this,” she said, referring to her overall grand champion barrow title.
Raising a winning pig means a significant amount of work for Miller, between feeding, exercising and competing.
“We got the pig in the beginning of March – you basically have a 90-day period – and the first thing we really try to work on is feeding,” she said. “It’s kind of strategic in the way you feed them to get them to the ideal weight and looking right. I also spend an hour-and-a-half to two hours walking pigs every day – I probably walked five miles amongst all my pigs. You also kind of have to get your name out there … to just know people.”
Miller’s favorite showing memory is her most recent accomplishment.
“You go out in the show ring and you’re driving your pigs … the judges look them over, talk about them, and the handshake is the big deal. They shake the hand of whoever wins,” she said. “I have an immense fondness for Chesters now – actually the first pig I showed was a Chester White … I was pretty upset when I had to get rid of her. I named her Chessy.”
Miller called this year’s champion Chowder – the animal went to a friend’s house in Omaha, Neb. following the show.
“I’m probably going to continue showing at least until I’m 18 and probably until I’m 21,” she said. “Since I’m the last kid of the family, we might prolong (showing) as long as I can.”
As for other Goshen County youth with big show aspirations, Miller had some advice she’s gleaned from her years of competition.
“Don’t give up when something goes wrong,” she said. “Hard work is the key.”