While Hog Capital of the World is an honorary title for Henry County, the industry is still alive.
Kewanee Hog Day’s celebrates that tradition of keeping this area’s agriculture prosperous.
Pork producer Gary Asay said, “Farming is kind of unique in that aspect, a lot of families continue from generation to generation.”
Across the landscape of Henry County, barns and silos line the horizon with expanding crop fields with a hidden ancestry of hard work.
Pork producer Taylor Wildermuth said, “There’s a lot of great producers in this county, and there still are to this day.”
Gary Asay and Taylor Wildermuth are both the third generation of operating their families farms south of Geneseo, and some of their earliest memories is helping dad and grandpa.
Wildermuth said, “Just help them with whatever they needed. I always enjoyed being out, being around them and helping them with anything they needed.”
Their operations include farming hundreds of acres of corn and soy, but the centerpiece is raising thousands of hogs.
Wildermuth said, “They’re just a fun animal to work with and a smart animal.”
In their years, they’ve seen a lot of change with technology making it easier to raise hogs.
Asay said, “Everything was outside. The bigs were born in little huts out in the fields.”
Wildermuth said, “Night and day difference from how we used to raise pigs, you know, 20-30 years ago. The technology that’s available.”
It’s not just a job and land that’s handed down, but a lesson in care and pride.
Asay said, “Learned a lot from my dad as I started out farming as we went along and helped me get started. It’s just a great honor.”
It’s that motivation helping them push through the long hours and hard work.
Wildermuth said, “My duty to carry on what my dad and grandpa and built and carry on a legacy of guys like them.”
Because it’s more than just a farm, it’s family