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Teen-ager hogs the honors at 4-H fair in Carroll

On the last day of the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair, Matthew H. Fogle could rest a bit and collect congratulations for a triple crown, record-breaking performance.

Grand champion ribbons hung over the pens of Fogle's lamb, pig and steer. For the first time in the fair's 106-year history, one exhibitor, the 19-year-old college sophomore from Woodbine, took top honors in all three livestock categories.

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"We have checked through all our records, and nobody has done this before," said Barry C. Lippy, fair director. "We have had several winners with two species, but none with three."

Fogle, active in 4-H since he was 8, is studying business at Salisbury State University. Growing up on a farm has given him enough experience with livestock to know when he has a winner. He has shown grand champion steers and lambs at past fairs, but this was the first year he competed successfully with a pig.

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"I thought if I had any shot of winning this year, it was with my steer," he said.

After competing against 115 others of his ilk, Carl, a 1,311-pound, black-and-white steer, born 17 months ago and bred on Fogle's farm, was named grand champion Thursday.

"I knew when he was born that he had great potential," said Fogle. "He just doesn't have any faults. That's why he won."

Fogle walks Carl daily - on a halter, of course.

"He's got a real personality and he will play with you, even chase you around a bit," he said. "At his weight, he can pretty much do whatever he wants, but he's really gentle."

Fogle's 128-pound cross-bred lamb, prophetically dubbed Victor when he was born in January, took grand champion, and another lamb, named John after a neighbor, won second place in Tuesday's trials. Judges told Fogle the differences between the two animals were minor.

"Victor was just prettier," said Fogle.

His unnamed young hog, which had packed on nearly 250 pounds since her birth in February, had such good lines that she will probably be sold as a breeder, said Fogle.

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He still names most of his animals, but he knows better than to get attached. Four of his steers have been named grand champion during his 10 years in 4-H. Bud, his first champion, was the most memorable.

"I cried on him when he was sold," said Fogle. "But you have to let them go. The alternative is to have a steer for a pet."

Fogle sold all three prize-winners at the fair auction Friday, the final event of the weeklong Westminster event.

Victor brought the highest price per pound at $13, for a total of $1,664. The steer was sold for $4,526 and the hog went for $930.

"This boy has worked hard to be the best he can ever since he got into 4-H," said Lippy. "He knows to look for the best quality animal he can get hold of, but it is what he does afterward that makes him a winner. You can have a great animal, but if you don't feed it and work with it, it won't win."

That means exercising, grooming and feeding every day, Fogle said. He returns home from college most weekends to tend the animals. His family fills in during the week.

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"People don't realize how much work an animal is," he said. "Lambs have to be walked twice a day for about a mile so they don't get fat. You wash steers twice a day so they stay cool, and you walk them so they don't get stiff. Pigs get exercised, too, but they can do a lot for themselves."

On Friday, Fogle still had to wash, walk and groom all three champions before the 6 p.m. auction, but he had time to savor his wins.

Greg Hester, a Westminster farmer, clutched Fogle's slender hand in his two beefy ones and congratulated the youth on an awesome job.

"He had the three best animals at this fair," said Hester. "They all three could go to any fair in any state and place. Matt has done a really impressive job raising these animals."

Alexis Becker, 16, who lost to Fogle in the sheep and pig shows, had a dinner bet riding on her friend taking all three prizes. "Matt is a good showman and that is what it takes to win," she said.

Fogle said his years in 4-H have been "a great learning experience, not just about animals, but mostly about life. 4-H shows you that you have to work at something to succeed. You can't sit back and expect things to fall into place."

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He will be passing those lessons on to a new generation of children, he said. He is helping to start a club in Worcester County, near the university.

"This is his last year in 4-H, but he won't be completely out of it," said Lippy. "He will be helping other kids, and that is the best part about his whole experience."


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