A family affair

(Top row from left) Holly, Rebekah, Paige and (bottom row from left), Daniel and Aaron Gumm all won awards for their swine at the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede. - Photo by Rachel Brant
(Top row from left) Holly, Rebekah, Paige and (bottom row from left), Daniel and Aaron Gumm all won awards for their swine at the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede.
— image credit: Photo by Rachel Brant

The Kitsap County Fair & Stampede may have come to an end, but the Gumm family has a constant reminder of this year’s fun and hard work sitting on their mantle.

The North Kitsap siblings brought home numerous ribbons and trophies including two grand champion and two reserve champion awards for their prize-winning pigs.

Holly, 18, Rebekah, 17, Paige, 15, Daniel, 11 and Aaron, 9, all showed pigs at this year’s Fair. Holly and Daniel won grand champion awards for their Duroc-Hampshire pigs, while Paige and Aaron took home reserve grand champion. Rebekah’s Hampshire-Yorkshire pig didn’t make weight, but if it had she may have brought home a fifth ribbon to add to the family collection.

Holly, a North Kitsap High School graduate, became involved in FFA four years ago and began raising pigs.

“A teacher got me involved in it and everyone else kind of jumped on the bandwagon,” she said.

The Gumm siblings raise pigs twice a year to compete in the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede and the Northwest Junior Livestock Show in Puyallap. The Gumm girls have shown pigs at the Fair in the past, but this year’s Fair was a first for Daniel and Aaron.

“We’re very proud of the kids,” said their mother Valerie Gumm.

All four pigs that did well in the competition came from the same litter. Rebekah’s pig became ill and had to be put down. She got another pig, but it didn’t make the 225-280 pound weight limit.

“The four that did well were all litter mates,” Valerie said. “We’ve got some good breeders in the county.”

The Gumm siblings spend a lot of time raising award-winning swine. They wake up at 5:30 a.m. to care for their pigs. The animals are fed a healthy diet and bathed regularly. During the Fair, the brothers and sisters helped sweep the swine barn at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, frequently bathed their animals and answered questions about pigs.

“They’re humanely raised,” Holly said. “Happy pigs come from Kitsap County.”

Holly, Rebekah, Paige, Daniel and Aaron enjoyed educating people about pigs. Although it was his first time showing an animal at the Fair, Daniel liked answering questions and telling Fair-goers about his animal.

“A lot of people said they’d never seen a pig up close,” Valerie said. “They don’t get to experience that. It’s really important for people to stay in touch with their food sources.”

The Duroc-Hampshire pigs tend to gain weight quickly, according to Holly, so the Gumm family regularly exercises their animals.

“We have our hog pen on a hill so they’re constantly walking up and down,” Holly chuckled. “Our pigs have the best-looking butts out there.”

Rebekah enjoys showing pigs because they are “adorable” and “smart” animals. Holly said swine are the most difficult animals to show because you don’t lead them around the ring on a leash. For the judges to get a good look at the pigs, people use canes to move the animals around the ring.

“It all relates to how well you work with your animal,” Holly said.

She added that she would have liked the opportunity to show steer at the Fair, but she was happy to raise pigs.

“We don’t have enough land for steer,” she said. “I would love to show a steer though.”

This year will be Holly’s last time at the Fair. The recent high school grad is no longer eligible to show animals, but loved her experience with the North Kitsap FFA.

“It’s one of the oldest school clubs in America and it gets the least recognition,” she said.

After taking courses at community college, Holly plans to attend Bastyr University and become a midwife. Although her future career does not involve agriculture, she hopes others will join FFA and find the experience worthwhile.

“This is the only school club I’ve really been in, but from what I see you have a really close community, a really close family all through the year,” she said. “I really hope that when I have kids there is a program like that for them.”

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