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My evolution process to the Pig Whisperer

For months and months, our county’s youth have been readying themselves for the competition -- all along the way learning incredibly valuable lessons about life and who they are as a person.
The 63rd annual Screven County Livestock Festival is upon us. Our new queen was crowned Saturday night. This Saturday is the parade, Chicken-Q and Western Wear competition.
Then the youth will show their well-trained and fully fed animals April 8, 9 and 10 at the agricultural center on Rocky Ford Road.
These children have been training like boxers about to go into the ring for the heavyweight title of the world. They have been up early to feed their animals and up late to work with them.
That takes commitment. Real solid commitment.
Now here is where I come into the picture. I will battle in head-to-head action with some formable foes on the first night of the shows.
Some of my opponents have a jumpstart on me in the experience category, but I am gaining quickly.
I will explain --
On Wednesday night between the lamb and goat shows at the ag center, little boys and girls get to enter the ring to say “hi” to animals.
On Thursday, the grand finale is the Cow Patty Bingo as a lucky individual scores $500 based on where the cowabunga drops its poop.
However, the Tuesday opening night does not have a side show to the main show.
Well, I will be the side show, but I plan to dazzle you with preparations. Let’s just say I’ll be the big pork barbecue plus a bag a chips.
I and eight others deemed local celebrities will have a showmanship competition with the pigs. We each will guide our swine around the ring while being judged on our abilities to handle Porky. This showdown will take place after the Grand Champion Market Pig is awarded that evening.
All three nights of shows next week begin at 6 p.m. As always, there is plenty to see at the shows, but Tuesday evening promises to have something quite a bit extra.
Before I go one-by-one through the other celebrities, I want to stress to you I am not taking this lightly. I have been exercising my body and my mind.
I will be ready Tuesday night, but I don’t exactly have a four-legged variety of pig in my house to prompt to do as I direct. Two-legged variety of pigs in my home, well .....
So I been taking advantage of what is afforded to me. First, you’ve got to start out small. You cannot immediately led a pack of pachyderms.
And that is why I have been training with two of our family’s pet dwarf hamsters. Sorry that I didn’t have any guinea pig pets to keep with the piggoroni theme, but I have made due just fine.
“Teddy” and “Maisy” will scamper from my hand and back and forth on my arm and shoulders.
Now get a visual image in your minds of this. No dwarf hamsters, a smaller and quicker version of their hamster cousins, are not of the burst of activity like the cat, who believes the stairs are designed by NASCAR. However, those dwarfs aren’t skimping on their exercise regiments. Those little ladies can spin wheels in their cages with the best of them.
For the showmanship competition, you have to do it with a show stick and quite a bit of knowledge. Well as for showing a dwarf hamster, I have been utilizing a cotton swab for my stick.
And the mini hamsters let you know real quick if you aren’t doing it right. They will whip their cute tiny heads around and chew on that Q-Tip faster than they can store a week’s worth of sunflower seeds in their cheeks.
If all my diligence pays off and my swine is the most divine Tuesday night, the conspiracy theories will abound. It will be my P-I-G from the ag center stables who will be accused on being on P-E-D-S.
The real reason the pig and I connect will be because I will have a conversation with said swine before we take the stage. I have bestowed the title of “Pig Whisperer” on myself. Yes, there are some already with such a moniker, but that ain’t me. I know my way around some swine.
I and a staff of 1,000 minus 997 put together a newspaper each week that I am well aware is judged by anyone who doles out three shiny quarters or has an annual subscription (Not so subtle plug: Please call 912-564-2045 to arrange a subscription to this publication today).
I know what it is to be scrutinized. With that, let me provide you with an analysis of the “others.”
Dorie Bacon, executive director Screven County Development Authority: She is one successful lady, but if she mentions her last name to the pig it could turn bad for her real fast.
Margaret Evans, Sylvania mayor: One lady who knows how to take charge. She will be difficult to defeat.
Latasha Roberts, executive director of Chamber of Commerce: I bet organizing a festival parade readies a person for just about anything.
Gary Weaver, chief of Sylvania police and fire departments: I am sure he has met up with some alleged culprits he probably thought were animals.
And then there are the ringers. The remaining entrants all have agriculture backgrounds. They probably do pig showmanship to wind down after a long day a work.
William Bland, superintendent of Screven County School System: A man who knows about being in charge.
Will Boyd, chairman of County Commission: A man who knows about being in charge.  
Jon Burns, state representative in Georgia House: A man who knows about being in charge.
Lindy Sheppard, chairman of Board of Education: A man who knows about being in charge. (Sounds kinda redundant doesn’t it.)
I and my pig-to-be-named-later are up to our pork bellies with foes who don’t lose. However, they haven’t tangled with a foe like me.
Got to get back to my training. “Teddy” has just awoken from her nap under the mounds of paper shavings. Good deal.

Enoch Autry is the managing editor of the Sylvania Telephone.