20 years of promoting swine program

Mitchell Brown of Wanatah of the Cass Champions 4-H Club was presented the annual Clarence J. Weinkauff Award at the La Porte County Fair by Sue Weinkauff McCormack, left, of the Weinkauff Grant Fund, and Deb Varnak, vice president of the Unity Foundation of La Porte County.

La PORTE – The La Porte County Fair is over for another year, and along with the fried food, live music, and games was one of the Unity Foundation of La Porte County's most memorable fair moments: presentation of the annual Clarence Weinkauff Jr. award.

The Weinkauff Family celebrated 20 years of presenting the award, part of the Clarence Weinkauff Jr. Grant Fund, which promotes the 4-H swine program and the breeding of swine in La Porte County.

This year’s award was presented to Mitchell Brown of Wanatah, a 10-year participant in the La Porte County Fair Swine Project and a member of the Cass Champions 4-H Club.

Brown said he had a stroke of bad luck with his pigs this year, and plans to use the award money to purchase a new pig to raise, as well as for feed.

“It gives me a lot of pride to raise them from babies to full grown animals,” Brown said in his application. “It gives me a lot of responsibility through the years and it makes me want to work hard to have the best animal I can have.”

Each year, the fund awards a $500 grant to a 4-H member to reward the "extra effort and passion that goes along with breeding and raising swine – even if the livestock does not win the competition," Unity Foundation spokeswoman Lisa Stojanovich said.

"Students must apply for the award through an essay submitted to the local 4-H extension office prior to the fair. The fund was started in 1999 by Clarence’s children to honor their father and his dedication to the 4-H program and farming community of La Porte County."

Clarence "Sonny" Weinkauff Jr., was a lifelong farmer, who at one point owned four farms in Porter and La Porte counties and cash-rented others. Until 1998, he grew popcorn for Orville Redenbacher. He died in 1998 at age 61.

The Weinkauff family "understood how rewarding the experience of raising your own swine to show at the fair was, and wanted to encourage more families to take that route instead of buying a pig to show," Stojanovich said.

Over the past 20 years, the fund has given out $10,000 to the Swine Program community.

Sue Weinkauff McCormack said the family was proud to carry on the tradition for 20 years.

“In 1999, our family never dreamed we’d be standing here having honored twenty 4-Hers with a combined $10,000. We all benefited from 4-H and are glad we can continue to give back to the program. Our dad would be very proud of this legacy.”

—From staff reports

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