By Julie Ann Madden
She’s never kissed a pig nor slept with her own pigs.
She’s not fond of chocolate with bacon bits pig-shaped candies either.
But she knows all about swine and has spent the past year promoting pork as the 2016 Plymouth County Pork Queen.
Natalie Harvey, daughter of Chris and Brad Harvey of rural Akron, began showing pigs when she was just three-years-old at the Akron-Westfield FFA Alumni Association’s Livestock Show along side her sisters: Kelsie, Monica and Marissa.
“I like showing pigs,” said Natalie, especially in showmanship classes at the Plymouth County Fair — where she’s been showing with the Johnson Juniors 4-H Club since fourth grade.
The hardest part of showing is keeping an eye on the judge while keeping my pig moving around the arena, said Natalie.
Sometimes it’s embarrassing when one steps on her foot or when her pigs trap her in the show arena in the Pen of Three Pigs class but the Akron-Westfield senior has brought home several Grand Champion awards.
And Natalie takes the role of caring for her pigs very seriously, working along side her father doing chores, and swine is also her Akron-Westfield FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience project.
Natalie was named the Plymouth County Pork Producers Association’s Little Miss Pigtails two years in a row when she was six and seven years old.
As Little Miss Pigtails and now the Pork Queen, Natalie promotes pork through participating in parades, including the Akron-Westfield Homecoming; working at the Christmas Pioneer Village and the fair’s Swine Show luncheon handing out pork sandwiches; giving out T-shirts and pork recipes at a Sioux City Musketeers hockey game; and working in the fair’s Grandstand Pork booth, making her favorite pork loin sandwiches.
This Saturday night, her reign as queen will end as a new royalty court will be announced at the annual Plymouth County Pork Producers’ Banquet, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Le Mars Golf Course.
Natalie’s advice to her successors is “Just have fun — go out and explore all the different fair vendors, enjoy the musical performances in Pioneer Village and watch the entertainment at the grandstand and make sure you try all the foods!”
“Thank you to the Pork Producers for all the support and help throughout the years,” said Natalie who will give a final report on her year’s reign at the banquet.
In addition to serving as pork queen and being involved in FFA and 4-H, Natalie is an Akron-Westfield basketball cheerleader, enjoys choir and is a member of the National Honor Society. She works at the Akron Children’s Center and attends St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
This fall, Natalie will attend Western Iowa Tech Community College, majoring in Early Childhood Education.
“You never know — there’s always a farm at home and Dad always needs help,” said her mom.
There might just be a future in swine production for Natalie.