Iowa Pork Producers Association teams up with the ISU Block and Bridle Club


Contestants of the senior showmanship competition show their pigs to the judge and audience Feb. 28. The competition was part of the Cyclone Swine Spectacular put on by the Block and Bridle Club.

Kyndal Reimer

The squeals of children and piglets wound together Feb. 28 at the Hanson Agriculture Student Learning Center.

For the second year in a row, the ISU Block and Bridle Club partnered with the Iowa Pork Producers Association to put on the Cyclone Swine Spectacular for the surrounding communities.

The Block and Bridle Club at Iowa State strives to be successful and outstanding by participating in numerous club activities. Throughout the year, the club organizes multiple cattle, dog, lamb, horse and swine shows, as well as hosting contests.

The day began at 8 a.m., with the last competition at 1 p.m. The event was open to kids between the ages of 8 and 18, who were then separated into three ages groups for competitions: junior, intermediate and senior. The only requirement was a love for swine.

The day consisted of all swine-themed events. There was a photography contest and an essay contest, which were submitted prior to the event, as well as a knowledge bowl, a swine judging contest, a pork fabrication workshop, an impromptu speech contest and a swine showmanship contest. 

“It’s basically a ‘skillathon’ where anyone ages 8 to 18 can come together and share their enthusiasm for swine,” said Shawnie Wagner, the consumer outreach director for the IPPA. “The Block and Bridle Club does all of the leg work really. It’s great having their help putting on the event.”

Victors were awarded duffle bags, gift cards, boot bags, jackets, blankets, buckets and one winner from each age group received a belt buckle. Additionally, each participant got a free T-shirt just for signing up. 

Jim Gibson, the guest judge of the swine judging contest and the showmanship contest, has also judged a plethora of other swine competitions. He was exceptionally pleased with the pigs presented to him throughout the day and expressed this time and time again.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with all of the swine presented today,” Gibson said. “Considering the fact that it’s February, which is not ideal weather for training swine, all of the contestants have done a great job and have exceeded my expectations today.”

Gibson also advised each of the kids one-on-one with his educated advice on their strengths and how they could improve. This is something unique to Gibson.

“I believe that giving kids one-on-one feedback gives them all the vital tools they need to advance in their skills,” Gibson said. “Showmanship is all about how to make your pig look good in the ring and I love being able to help these kids do so.” 

Gibson’s viewpoint resonates with what the IPPA and the Block and Bridle Club stand for. Everyone involved with the Cyclone Swine Spectacular agrees on the notion that it is all about loving the industry.

The IPPA described the Cyclone Swine Spectacular as being “designed for kids that are as crazy about pigs as we are!”

This mindset set the tone and the theme for the day. Parents all around the arena were exchanging comments such as, “I love how family oriented and laid back today has been!” 

Looking ahead, the IPPA and the Block and Bridle Club aspire to continue to expand the Cyclone Swine Spectacular and reach more and more families each year. They hope to provide more opportunities and better education to kids with a passion for swine.

“Personally, the Cyclone Swine Spectacular is meaningful to me because I grew up on a swine farm,” Wagner said. “I attended a lot of events and shows like this one, therefore this event really resonates with me. I love inspiring young kids to find joy in the things I’ve loved since I was their age. It’s an extremely satisfying feeling.”

The swine industry is not only important to Gibson, Wagner, the IPPA and the Block and Bridle Club, but it’s also an extremely important industry for Iowa as a whole. 

“With assets of corn, soybeans, farmers and packing capacity, Iowa is the ideal location for pork production … Nearly one-third of the nation’s hogs are raised in Iowa and we are the number one pork producing state in the U.S. Also, it is the top state for pork exports, according to the IPPA,”

Events like the Cyclone Swine Spectacular really focus on educating kids of Iowa to ensure the legacy lives on.