Pictured: Corazon is Spanish for "Heart," so Jenna Vera's pig is aptly named, since she has a passion for raising swine, and sees beauty where others may not. MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Gonzalez, Vera were among those holding out for a win

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Ivan Gonzalez doesn't like to brag about his pigs. He stood quietly Thursday morning, brushing his pig and keeping her coat presentable for the judges.

This is his second year showing swine, and his third year overall participating in the Jim Wells County Fair.

Ivan said his pig has all the qualities for which the judges are looking.

When it comes to size, form and proportions, he said his pig is a good contender.

"There's greater competition in swine," Ivan said. "There are more animals in this competition, and greater recognition."

He said his dad helps out with the pig, but he is determined to care for and feed the animal himself.

His dad said taking on a pig is a big commitment, and it became a family sort of project.

Last year, Ivan received third place and qualified for showmanship. He said that he has a good shot this year to surpass last year's third-place showing.

Others are just as hopeful at this year's Jim Wells County Fair.

"Pigs are so cute," Jenna Vera said as she prepped for judging.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

At 241 pounds and 243 pounds respectively, Corazon and Aliah looked like two happy pigs, preened and ready for their big appearance.

Vera, an eighth-grade student with Premont Jr. FFA, is all about swine. As her mom described it, Jenna comes from a pig family.

After five years of experience raising swine, the 14 year old still finds it tough to let go sometimes.

She knows that at the end of the day, the truck will drive off with pigs in tow, but her mom reminds her often, they have to leave, to make room for the new ones coming in.

Like the other students who participate in the swine show, Jenna admits it is a tough contest, with so many pigs participating.

The contest grows larger every year. In Premont, students are often rabbit raisers, or chicken people, even a few notable goat or lamb growers, but swine, Jenna said, is not something commonly found in the stalls of competitors coming from Premont.

Some people, like Jenna, just have an eye for pigs and love raising them.

She also enjoys the fair atmosphere, getting out of school early and being out with friends. She enjoys the whole fair experience.

As for her chances, Jenna is optimistic.

"Corazon is a pretty good pig, I think I'll place with her," Jenna said.

"If I at least get a ribbon, I'll be happy. If not, there's always next year."