WAXAHACHIE — A pair of Ennis agriculture students took the top swine awards at the 28th annual Ellis County Youth Expo swine show Wednesday evening.
Graham Quinn and Madison Hann worked their way through 260 contestants in 31 classes in the show that took a little over seven hours for Cassidy Hayes to judge. Hayes was tasked with culling through each of the entries to determine the winners of the class, then the breed and then the weight class to get to the final drive for Overall Grand and Reserve Champions.
For Quinn, a senior at Ennis High School and a member of Ennis 4-H, the Grand Champion buckle was a goal of his heading into his senior year.
“This is crazy. I’ve been showing since the fourth grade. I’ve gotten close but never to either of the top awards. Being able to make it to the top is the best I could ever hope for,” said Quinn, who also shows steers. “If I could make it to the top with my steer that would make my senior year complete. I really want to thank all my family and friends that are a part of where I am today.”
Quinn, the son of Scott and Glenda Quinn, said he is looking at several colleges and is undecided where he will continue his education.
“I want to go where I can get the best from seeking degrees in neuroscience and biology," he added.
After naming Quinn the Grand Champion and Hann the Reserve Champion, Hayes explained that the two animals were top-quality show animals.
“Both of these animals would easily be class winners and any major show that they would enter,” the judge said.
Hann, of Ennis FFA, is in her third year in livestock shows.
"The first two years, I showed goats. Then three years ago, I switched to hogs. I like them much better,” Hann, an Ennis Junior High student said. “I have really enjoyed the work it took to get to where I am today. It has taught me a lot about responsibility and dedication.”
Hann is the daughter of Susan and Jarod Hann of Ennis.
During the showmanship contest, one Maypearl High School junior stood out amongst the competition.
In her sixth year of showing, which includes the last three in the swine competition, Rylie Williams impressed all of those in attendance as she steered her hog and herself around the arena.
“I like pigs much better. They were a challenge in the beginning to herd one from my motorized chair, but I adapted. I can do all the same things the others can do, it may take a little longer and just a little different,” Williams said.
Williams explained that agriculture is a big part of her life. Besides working with her show animals, Williams is also an officer in the Maypearl FFA.
“I like being with and meeting people at these shows. Besides that, showing and raising my animals teaches me responsibility,” Williams said.
“These kids are to quality. The best that I’ve seen and I judge shows in many states from California and across the Southwest,” said Hayes of those entered in the swine contest.
Hayes attributes the high quality of competition to good agriculture teachers, mentors and the involvement of the parents supporting their kids.
At the conclusion of the swine drive, Hayes chose the best showman in the senior and junior classes.
“Choosing the top showman, my hands are tied here. There are several that are really good and qualify for the showmanship belt buckle. It would be the judges choice as to who they pick,” Hayes said.
After several minutes of eyeing the field, Hayes chose Ashlyn Summers of Midlothian FFA for the Jr. Showmanship buckle and Alex Jones from Italy FFA as the Senior Showman.