SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Chances are anyone who has attended a swine show at the Illinois State Fair and other Midwest shows in the last five decades has seen a Miller family member showing their entries.
The fourth generation of Millers, 16-year-old triplets Hayden, Hannah and Holden, competed in this year’s State Fair with swine and cattle entries. Their parents are Matt and Tammy Miller of Chatsworth.
Hayden and Hannah had entries in the junior gilt show on Friday, Aug. 11, and also showed in the junior and open barrow shows on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 12-13.
Hannah had the champion Tamworth barrow in the junior show on Saturday, earning the honor to show in the Parade of Champions that night in the Coliseum. Hayden received second place in the Crossbred gilts borrow 248 to 251 competition.
Hayden, along with his brother, Holden, competed in the beef show. Holden exhibited a purebred Simmental steer in the junior and open steer shows. Hayden exhibited a Limousin steer in the junior show.
The Miller trio first showed swine at the World Pork Expo in Iowa when they were 4 years old and now compete in 12 to 15 jackpot shows, about three national shows, the Illinois State Fair and a few other county fairs throughout the year.
“We’ve been to Des Moines, Iowa, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma. We’ve went pretty much everywhere,” Hayden said.
“We probably go to 25 or 30 shows in a year,” Hannah noted. “Our parents both showed. It goes back four generations.
“So, my great-grandparents were the ones who started raising show pigs and ever since then every generation down to us have showed and raised pigs.”
Hayden and Hannah were asked what their favorite aspects of being on the show circuit.
“Some of my favorite parts of showing pigs is all the people I get to meet, all the places I get to go for all of these different shows, all the time spent with family and friends. That’s all a big part of it,” Hayden said.
“My favorite part is the connections that you build in the industry. I have so many lifelong friends by doing and going to so many shows,” Hannah added.
Showing any kind of livestock at the fair and at other competitions requires long hours, hard work and dedication beyond what spectators see in the show ring.
The family arrived at the Springfield fairgrounds Tuesday before the fair began and were there until Sunday night. They bring a camper for overnight accommodations.
“We spend all day in the barn — 5:30 a.m. to midnight — to take care of the pigs,” Hayden explained.
Along with the long days of keeping the animals comfortable, fed and watered is the pressure of getting ring-ready at multiple levels.
“The most challenging part would be to just trying to get all of the work done to stay on top of your game, but it’s also most rewarding,” Hannah said.
“There’s always pressure, but when I get in the ring I try to just focus on me and the pig and that way I can try to be just in my own zone when I’m out there and just kind of delete the rest of the world for a little bit.”
“The biggest challenges is all the work that has to go into it if you want to be competitive and do it right. If you want to do it right, it’s a lot of work. I love it. I wouldn’t trade it,” Hayden added.