Steve Ross of Altus is an organizer of the Great Plains Open Jackpot Swine Show which will be held Saturday at the Jackson County Expo Center.
"Us guys who have kids who show swine have been going all over the country giving our money to other towns," said Ross, who has two sons - one who attends Blair schools and one who attends Navajo schools -- both participating in the FFA programs and showing pigs. "Well, why don't we just keep that money right here in Altus?"
So, Ross and Mary Castillo of Altus, got together with five other porcine enthusiasts to start a board and decided how, when and where they would have the new swine show.
"We figured 200 entries when we first started," said Ross, "now, we're looking at about 400 entries or more." Ross said he recently went to Cheyenne -- a town in which there are only 900 residents-- to a show. There were more than 340 entries. "We're in a town of 26,000 so we'll do more than 400 probably," he said.
Organizers will open the Expo Center at 3 p.m. Friday in order for young people to bring in their pigs and start getting them ready to show.
There will be an armed security guard (paid for by a local restaurant owner) at the site all night on Friday to help watch the pigs and make sure nothing happens. According to Ross, an armed guard is necessary because a lot of families have several thousands of dollars invested in their children's pigs.
They are opening the show to all kids in 12th grade and under -- even to kids who are pre-4-H.
"If you've got a two or three-year-old kid and you think they can show a pig, then let them show," said Ross. He remembers going to a show in Duncan recently and a little boy from Hollis, who is only not even two years old yet, showed a pig.
"He was so cute. He had on his boots, his Wranglers and his flashy belt. He just got out there and tried to ride the pig halfway through the show," laughed Ross. He said everyone began laughing and cutting up, even the show's judge.
"Of course, the judge can't judge the little kid. They're just looking at the meat on the pig, or the carcass, and that's all they judge on," he said.
The judge is chosen from outside the Altus area so there won't be any conflict of interest. Ross said they will not announce the judge's name either, in case people would try to call and butter the judge up.
The Jackson County Hoofbeats Riding Club will be running the concession stand, and all the proceeds will go to that organization. Ross said that they are trying to not have any money left over after the show, but if there is, it will go into an account for next year's show.
The entry fee to the show will be $20 per animal with no limit on how many pigs one child can enter and show. Prizes will be awarded as follows: Grand Burrow - $500; Grand Gilt - $350; Reserve Grand Burrow - $200; and Reserve Grand Gilt - $150. They are also offering the children at least an 80 percent payback on their animals, using the entry fee money as prize money for first, second, third place and so on. According to how many entries there are, the prize money for these categories will fluctuate between now and the time of the show.
The organizers have been going around Altus, gathering up donations from local business owners and individuals to sweeten the grand prize pot.
Don Lane, a local disk jockey, has donated his time that day to be the show's announcer.
Pedal Pushers of Altus has said they will donate the fresh floral harnesses that will be placed on the winning swine. Altus Printing Company donated the flyers in which the board has been passing out to promote the show.
Holley Urbanski and Mark Holder, of the Altus Chamber of Commerce, are also helping with the event, citing it as a major economic development program for our community.
"This is the first time for a show like this and the more activities we have of this nature, the more money it pumps into our economy," said Urbanski. "It also helps the children by giving them more activities to participate in."
Entries need to be in by no later than 9 a.m. on Saturday, giving organizers only one hour to get all the money straightened out in envelopes to be awarded to winners and get everyone lined up for when they will show. They will accept only cash for entries, no checks.
Health papers on each animal from a veterinarian are required. The maximum weight is 260 pounds. According to Ross, the pigs will be weighed right there when they are checked in, so children need to be as accurate as possible when they are writing their tags on each pig.
There will also be a jacket given to the child who shows the best showmanship qualities. They will not allow hay in the barns, due to fire codes, so children may only bring pine shavings for their animals to sleep on. Show time will be at 10 a.m.
For more information on the upcoming Great Plains Open Jackpot Swine Show, interested persons may contact Steve Ross at 471-9444 or 482-0793; or Marty Castillo at 471-7427 or 480-1539.