Clark County Fair: Grand champion hog exhibitor caught off guard by win

CJ Wilt had never won more than a class before at the fair

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

CJ Wilt showed the grand champion market hog at the 2020 Clark County Fair, but he had no idea while it was going on.

“I never thought that it was real until I had actually won it,” said the 14-year-old Southeastern student. “I never thought I really even had a chance.”

Judge Brian Arnold judged market hogs for two days during an unusual fair that was shortened for the coronavirus pandemic, and he sounded like he came away with no doubts about the best one he saw.

“There’s one that just takes it to a whole ‘nother level, folks,” he said at the conclusion of the final drive Wednesday afternoon. “I think when she comes through that gate right there if you look at this one in terms of her chest, her rib cage, her top, her hip and then you put ‘em in motion, there is one that is just the athlete in this drive, I’d like to congratulate the young man with the calico gilt.”

Cassidy Lusk showed the reserve champion while Luke Spracklen’s project was third, Evan Henry’s came in fourth and Eli Keplinger had the No. 5 overall market hog.

“I never really thought I was ever gonna win it until he started talking about her, like at the end when he really was describing this pig,” said Wilt, the son of Chad Wilt and Clark County commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

This victory was the culmination of hard work during the summer of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

That led to schools finishing the year online and many typical activities for the spring and summer being held online or just canceled.

It did not lessen the work CJ Wilt had to do on his father’s farm — “I kept him busy, bailing hay and things like that,” Chad Wilt said — but it did end with a rewarding win.

“This year has been different all the way through, and the fair had its differences but we just can’t thank people enough who made this happen,” Chad Wilt said.

The fair was shortened to five days with market hogs showing in two sessions, Sunday and Wednesday.

There were no rides, games or grandstand events, but CJ Wilt said that was not all bad from his perspective.

“For me it definitely was more focused on the animals,” said CJ Wilt, whose previous best showing at the fair was a class winner. “There weren’t so many people there, there weren’t so many of my friends there. A lot of times I usually get pulled away by my friends and go ride rides and I’m not completely focused on my animal when I should be, so that really let me focus on my animal and let me do as much as I possibly could.”

While Wednesday was the last official day of the fair, not all fair business is over.

A virtual sale is set to start Monday and can be accessed via

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