McGirl’s first National Western Stock Show appearance |

McGirl’s first National Western Stock Show appearance

Bill JacksonHannah with her, 214-pound crossbred, Cloie.

Hannah McGirl is going to the National Western Stock Show for the first time in her short 4-H career.

McGirl, age 10, will be taking two market hogs to the big show in Denver, which starts its 104th year this week. She’s starting her third year in 4-H as a member of the Valley Ag 4-H Club and showing market swine, but the National Western will be the biggest show she’s ever attended to exhibit pigs.

She has competed at the Weld County Fair and at last year’s Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, Colo., where she had pigs that took fourth and eighth in their class.

This year, she has Jasper, a 202-pound Hampshire, and Cloie, a 214-pound crossbred, that she’s been feeding, exercising and working with daily since early November that she’ll take to Denver and the National Western. She said she bought the pair from Mike Pallato of Johnstown, Colo.

“My dad (Rich) helped me with the names,” Hannah said.

“I think it was a brainstorming process,” her mom, Tara, added.

Hannah gets her desire to raise and show market swine from her mother, who was a 4-H member in Lyons, where she raised and exhibited animals at the Boulder County Fair.

“This is going to be a learning experience,” Tara said of her oldest going to the National Western. “The state fair was a learning experience, but it will be nothing compared to Denver.”

The National Western usually draws 500 to 750 market swine from throughout the Midwest, Southwest and Rocky Mountain area, making it, along with the market lamb show, the largest of the junior market livestock shows.

This year’s National Western opens Saturday, Jan. 9, and continues through Jan. 24. Considered the Super Bowl of livestock shows, it aspires to be the world’s premier center for America’s western heritage and includes several cattle breed shows, horse shows, Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association performances and horse shows. The National Western complex, which includes the Coliseum, Stadium, Hall of Education, Event Center and livestock yards, is at the Brighton Boulevard exit of Interstate 70 in north Denver.

Hannah, a fourth-grader at Platteville Elementary School, said she feeds her two pigs in the morning, before school and again in the evening. She keeps detailed records of what she feeds the animals and their rate-of-gain, along with other expenses.

“I try to exercise them every day, but in the snow that’s been hard,” she said. To keep them warm and comfortable, they are kept in a shed where she keeps a portable radio playing music “so they don’t feel alone.”

She will compete in showmanship a day before the market show, Jan. 20.

“It’s almost a weeklong process by the time we get the pigs down there, get them checked in and weighed. So she’ll have to miss some school, which you can see really bothers her,” Tara said with a laugh.

Grand champions in junior market livestock competition will be named at 2 p.m. Jan. 14, market goat; 5 p.m. Jan. 17, market lamb; 7 p.m. Jan. 20, market swine; and 4 p.m. Jan. 21, market beef. This year’s Auction of Junior Livestock Champions will begin at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22.

A complete schedule of National Western Stock Show livestock and horse shows, as well as rodeo performances and other events, is available at

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