County fair showcases young talent

Cheyenne, left, and Dakota Wells, right, will show pigs at the Shelby County Fair next week. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Cheyenne, left, and Dakota Wells, right, will show pigs at the Shelby County Fair next week. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)


COLUMBIANA – When the Shelby County Fair returns to Columbiana Sept. 16, Cheyenne and Dakota Wells will be in their element.

Cheyenne, 16, and Dakota, 13, have been showing pigs at fairs and livestock shows across the country for about five years now, traveling to 15 shows a year on average in about eight different states. This year alone, they’ve already been to Texas, Iowa, Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia and shows across Alabama.

On a daily basis, both Cheyenne and Dakota work from sun up to sun down, spending about an hour and half at the farm every day caring for the pigs.

“You have to come over here (to the farm), she’ll go to work or I’ll go to softball practice, we come home, do our homework and then we just go to bed, no matter what time it is,” Dakota said.

“It teaches you a lot of responsibility because you can’t just forget about them. When you’re sick, you have to come over here. You have to come over here on Christmas. You can’t really take any vacations. My vacation would be here because I love it here. It’s fun.”

Getting ready for shows is an even longer process. Cheyenne said it can take up to two hours preparing for a show at the farm, two to three hours prepping the pigs at the show and anywhere from two to eight hours actually showing the pigs in the ring, and that doesn’t include travel time.

“You just sleep on the way home,” Dakota said.

But the work doesn’t come without rewards. Financially, all cash prizes they win go back into feeding the pigs and funding show costs, which can run upwards of $1,500 per show not including travel.

Recognition is also key. Cheyenne, who said she wants to be a geneticist, began being recruited by Purdue University when she was in eighth grade and will likely spend next summer doing an internship. Working with the pigs is also a stress reliever, she said.

“Most pigs, when they get used to you, they’ll come up to you and nudge on you, and they can tell when something’s wrong,” she said.

Both Cheyenne and Dakota said they enjoy seeing the results of their hard work, especially when pigs they’ve bred have babies.

“It’s like seeing all of your hard work come into something,” Dakota said. “It all pays off.”

For a complete list of show times and more information about the fair, visit