Wegan teenager to write fair diary for The Tribune


Penelope acts like a princess and doesn’t like to get dirty, and if there is something wrong with her, she will let you know because she’s so particular.

Chuck is moody all of the time and will sit in his pen and let you know if there something wrong.

Grumpy is mellow and is really cool about everything. You can go up to him and love on him, and he will just lay down.

Don’t tell the others, but Grumpy is Laney Warren’s favorite of the three crossbred pigs she will be showing at this year’s Jackson County Fair, which starts Sunday and runs through July 28.

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The three pigs were born in January, and Warren has been working with them since March.

“I feel like they’ve grown leaps and bounds since I was working with them back in the beginning,” the 16-year-old Brownstown Central High School junior said. “The first day that they came home, I would get in the pen, and they would run away and be all skittish. But now, I can get in the pen, and they are like, ‘Leave. I don’t want to deal with you today.’ It’s just like they’ve changed completely, but I think it is for the better.”

Also for this year’s fair, she had been working with a sheep, but it had issues with its feet, so she will just be doing a poster on it as her 4-H project.

Her other project is creative dramatics. She will be singing while her cousin, Katie Deppen, plays piano.

Starting Saturday, Tribune readers can follow Laney’s week at the fair with daily diary entries.

This is her eighth year of showing pigs. Her older sister, Mackinzey Warren, 18, is in her 10th year, while her younger sister, Erica Warren, 10, is showing for her second year.

“In the past, I normally had purebred every year,” Laney said. “This year, I figured I had had purebreds for so long, and I just wanted to try something new, so I went all crosses this year. With purebreds, (judges) have certain stuff that they look for in each breed, but with crosses, it’s kind of like the cream of the crop all over.”

She has been working with Penelope, Chuck and Grumpy about five hours per day.

“You have to lead them into it,” she said. “In the early months you get them, it’s just kind of like feeding them and watering them every day and spending time with them and getting them accustomed to your presence. Then as the months go by, you start walking them, and you start washing them more so that they get a routine going.”

She also has to weigh them once a week and change their feed.

“They are a high-maintenance item,” said her father, Ervin Warren.

“You can’t just throw feed at them and walk away,” her mother, Julie Warren, said.

Also, with the summer heat, Laney has to spray them with water every few hours to keep them cool.

“I will clean up pens early in the morning because it gets real hot, and I don’t want to be in the heat,” she said. “You have to keep an eye on them because if something goes wrong, it can get very bad very fast.”

For this year’s fair, Laney said the swine show schedule changed. Penelope will be in Monday’s gilt show, and Chuck and Grumpy will be in Tuesday’s barrow show.

She said she’s most looking forward to the showmanship portions.

“In the past years, I haven’t been as focused on showmanship, but this year, I think that I’ve grown a lot as a shower, so I’m just going to try and show off my new knowledge that I have because I feel like I have learned a lot this year,” she said.

While her dad helps her with pigs, her grandparents, Bob and Blanche Gray of Reddington, help with sheep.

“My grandparents got into it, and it was a really good bonding activity for us, so I was just going to their house and I was working with the sheep,” Laney said. “My grandpa told me what to do, and he showed what each part of the sheep does, and he showed me how to clip them and how to treat their feet.”

Sheep have to be led around the show arena, which is different than pigs, Laney said.

“With sheep, you don’t have a halter on them as you get older, and so whenever I would lead them around, it was so different than working with pigs because with pigs, you just have a whip and you hit them under their chin, and they just go,” she said. “With sheep, you actually have to show them where to go, and it’s just like a completely different ballgame.”

Laney said she noticed a difference in working with sheep at her grandparents’ home last year compared to the fairgrounds.

“I was kind of scared they would run off and do something because you never know. You always get the one crazy one,” she said. “I’m so much more comfortable with pigs than I am with sheep. It was an experience.”

In the end, though, she won champion Dorset ewe and champion rookie showman. She credits that to her grandparents.

“They are just really supportive of me in everything that I do,” Laney said.

She’s also in her second year of creative dramatics.

Last year, she sang “How Great Thou Art” accompanied by her mother on piano. This year, she’s singing “Only Hope” by Mandy Moore with Deppen on piano.

She will get judged today, and she will sing again July 26 before results are announced.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Performing is nothing new to Laney, as she has been a part of musicals in high school. She also has attended Showchoir Camps of America in the summer.

“In a musical, you get to step into your character’s personality and you become that person, whereas whenever you just go up there and sing a song, you are portraying a person, but at the same time, you want to show your take on that,” she said.

During fair week, Laney also will be working at the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association and Pork Producers food stand and the FFA building. Plus, she’s singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 4-H horse and pony show Saturday.

While she will be busy at the fair, she also is going to find time to enjoy her favorite food.

“The ice cream cone that is half chocolate, half vanilla is by far the best,” she said.

Both of her parents said they are proud of all of the work Laney puts into the fair each year.

Ervin said 4-H allows his daughter to learn life skills that will help as she moves forward, and Julie said it has been great to see Laney develop.

“Watching her from when she was 9 years old when she first started and she did need a lot of help, she has really become very responsible and mature with her attitude and the way she does things and deals with things,” Julie said. “Not everything runs perfectly, so when something does happen, she is not one that is going to freak out or panic. She’s just like, ‘OK, let’s just roll with it.’ She definitely puts the work in.”

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For information about this year’s Jackson County Fair, visit jacksoncountyfair.org.

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Laney Warren’s 4-H projects for this year’s Jackson County Fair are pigs, sheep and creative dramatics.

The fair starts Sunday and runs through July 28.

She will submit a daily diary sharing her experiences at the fair with Tribune readers.

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Name: Laney Warren

Age: 16

Residence: Wegan

Education: Junior at Brownstown Central High School

Organizations: FFA, National Honor Society, track and field, cross-country manager, musicals, St. Paul Lutheran Church Wegan youth group (secretary), Dudleytown Redbirds 4-H Club (vice president)

Family: Parents, Ervin and Julie Warren; siblings, Mackinzey Warren, 18, and Erica Warren, 10


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