After three years of success at the Iowa State Fair, Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is encouraging an inclusive pig program to become local.

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The Bacon Buddies program is offered in cooperation with Special Olympics Iowa and gives individuals with disabilities the opportunity to take a pig into the show ring. These individuals work with 4-H and FFA mentors, get to talk with livestock judges and snag blue ribbons.

John Kliegl, president and SEO of Special Olympics Iowa says the Bacon Buddies is an opportunity for athletes to get exposed to something new.

Our athletes want to do what their peers are doing, and it’s a great opportunity to work with the 4-H and FFA youth who see them as their equals. It’s all about equality and a great partnership with the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

On Tuesday, IPPA announces its support to create county-level Bacon Buddies programs. Counties are able to request up to $500 for their local program. The money can be used for event signage, T-shirts, awards/ribbons, advertising, food, admission fees, etc.

IPPA President Trish Cook said that there is more to the program than what happens in the show ring.

What happens in the show ring isn’t the main event. Rather, it’s the connections, friendships, and memories built as participants prepare for the show. Those of us in the pork industry know that when you work with pigs together, you develop relationships. Our effort here is to honor our We Care principles of caring for people and for our communities.”

More information on how to start your own program can be found here.

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