Vignettes from Tuesday fair

King of the pigs

For more than two hours Tuesday morning, recent Franklin Community High School graduate Ryan Byrd shuffled pigs to and from the shower stalls at the swine barn.

Byrd was responsible for 13 pigs, although only two of them were his.

This year’s fair is Byrd’s first and last time showing animals. He joined 4-H his senior year but spent every day at the fair last year, even though he wasn’t a part of 4-H and didn’t own any animals. He spent time with friends who were showing pigs.

Then, a friend’s parents — Power of Youth 4-H leaders John and Melanie Carmack — suggested he join the club, even though it would be his only year to participate.

So far, Byrd has loved every minute of taking care of his two pigs, which are named after the Carmacks, but doesn’t plan to make a career out of it, he said. Instead, Byrd plans to double major in political science and legal studies at Ball State University, starting this fall.

But for now, Byrd is doing dirty work like shoveling hay and cleaning out pens and helping his fellow 4-H’ers with prepping their pigs. His hard work will be rewarded once he sells one of his pigs, he said. He estimates he’ll earn about $650.

Berry big deal

Dozens of cakes, cookies, pies and breads were competing Tuesday as part of the annual baking contest.

This year’s fruit was strawberry.

Franklin resident Debbie Hamilton, who won grand champion last year for her pumpkin spice caramel cake recipe, entered four items in this year’s contest. But she doesn’t think she will continue her winning streak this year, she said.

“The strawberry patch wasn’t good to me this year,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton spent the past month testing recipes by using frozen, fresh and freeze-dried strawberries. Cookbooks and recipes from famous chefs and family members are still spread out across her dining room table, she said. Since Friday, she has been so stressed, nervous and excited about the contest that she awakens routinely at 4 a.m., she said.

But today, she will throw all of her baking creations away so she isn’t tempted to eat all those desserts, she said.

Johnson County resident Sylvia Davis typically doesn’t like to practice making what she’ll bring in for the competition. If something bakes well, she’ll bring it; if not, she doesn’t stress out. This year, she had planned to bring a strawberry coffee cake, but the dough did not cook as she expected. She used fresh strawberries from her own garden for the contest.

Davis started cooking as a young child as one of 12 children. When she was 16, she entered a baking contest and won a Betty Crocker cookbook, which she still uses today. Since then, she has entered dozens of baking contests through 4-H groups and county fairs, she said.

Davis normally uses her own family recipes for her contest entries, including her mother’s recipe for this year’s strawberry pie.

“When my mom passed away, all of us girls — there are seven of us — got together and put her recipes together in a book,” Davis said.

— Compiled by Abby Armbruster