Those of us that live the Stock Show Life, often go to extreme measures to participate in the things that we love; several shows in a weekend, travel several hours to get practice at a jackpot, or work late nights and start all over again early the next morning. One of our clients, Nelson Hanson of Clements, California and his family did something that goes beyond extreme. They loaded their gilt onto their trailer in California, and drove 48 hours, one way (the return trip took 38 hours) to compete at the NJSA Southeast Regional Show in Perry, Georgia.
They stopped often to feed and water her. Just driving across the country is extreme. To travel that far to show is unheard of. To invest that amount of windshield time, and to end up having the Champion Crossbred Gilt is insane.
"We wanted to compete with our gilt. She wasn't quite at her peak at the other shows we took her to", said Nelson's mother Stacie. "We asked James Backman to come over and look at her and to be honest about if she was good enough to go to Perry." Suffice it to say, James thought they should make the trip, and they did.
Nelson's mother says, "I think we were a bit naive when we set out to do this. But we never wanted to look back and say 'We wished we shouda' ". Nelson's thoughts were, "There's more to learn from a failure than from not trying."
Nelson has successfully shown pigs for years. His show career is coming to an end so that he can venture on to the next Chapter of his life. But before his 'retirement', Nelson was awarded the Herdsman Of The Year in July of 2018 at the NJSA Summer Spectacular in Louisville, Kentucky. "It was an incredible and shocking honor", said Stacie. "We NEVER expected it. We just figured it would be won by a family who was in the pig business".
When talking to Stacie and Nelson about what their Stock Show Life has been like, anyone can tell that they are passionate about their experiences. "We would have never dreamed that we would have the success that we had. One of the greatest things we gained from showing is that Nelson has not only learned success, but he has also learned how to fail, and then how to grow from the loss." When asked about what she would say to others thinking about showing, Stacie said, "There are so many good people in the livestock industry. We cannot encourage anyone, everyone, enough to go show animals. Those animals are the most honest creatures in the world." Nelson's perspective on showing is, "Those purple banners are like the Loch Ness Monster; they are elusive. But that's what makes them SO special when you win one".
Those of us that have been fortunate enough to know the Hanson's will miss them in the years to come. But those of us who really know them, know that we'll be seeing them again soon ... at a Show. This time as spectators.