As Anna Freeman steps out onto the Georgia Southern University basketball court to dance with the Southern Explosion dance team, a feeling comes over her. It isn’t a feeling of nervousness but a familiar feeling she has had almost her entire life. It’s a feeling of excitement and preparedness taking over her as she begins to perform the routine her and her dance group have worked so hard on. This same feeling is the one she gets when she steps into the show ring with one of her show hogs. That’s right, his beauty queen and dancer is also a National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) registered breeder and hog show girl.
Freeman, a Statesboro, Ga, native, is a freshman at Georgia Southern University studying business. When meeting Freeman anyone will notice how she is totally a girly girl and has a huge personality, said Breanna Thompson, fellow dance team member.
“She’s a true Barbie diva who loves anything sparkly and pink,” said Thompson. “You would never look at Anna and think she would want anything to do with animals.”
Dance fit right in with her bubbly personally. Freeman has been dancing since a young age and has competed and won many competitions. Dance is something her and her mother have been able to share over 16 years.
“I began dancing at the age of two and it’s something me and my mom enjoying doing together”, said Freeman. “The competitions give us our mother daughter time together.”
She decided to carry on the hog show tradition in her family after her dad and brother got her involved. Even though Freeman has an extremely big love for dance, she takes her sparkles into the show ring to show her hogs with the same big love.
“My dad showed and worked on a hog farm growing up and then he taught my brother about hogs,” said Freeman. “I picked up this hobby when I was in the ninth grade.”
Since then, Freeman has shown at many fair shows and Future Farmers of America (FFA) shows across the state of Georgia. She has won many awards including multiple wins in the Grand Champion Hog category, but with many awards come much work. Freeman raises her pigs from day one, she says.
“We breed the pigs, give them their shots, notch their ears, and care for them from the very beginning,” said Freeman.
Freeman explained how difficult it was to raise hogs in the South Georgia heat which resulted in her and her father beginning to raise them themselves.
“The first year I began showing hogs we bought hogs from Indiana and they all became sick because of the change in weather,” said Freeman. “After that and a few other times it happened, we decided to breed our own.”
Freeman only raises and shows Duroc hogs which are red and brown colored hogs, she said. Breeding hogs takes a lot of Freeman’s time and she said it has taught her time management very well.
“Raising hogs takes an incredible amount of effort and time,” said Susan Jones, an agriculture teacher at Statesboro High School. “People do not buy a hog to win. You have to work with them and train then and that forces a lot of responsibility.”
Now that Freeman has graduated high school and is in college full time and is on the dance team, she doesn’t have as much free time, she said. The time management she learned through the hog shows has helped her manage her time efficiently now.
“During high school she stayed on the national honor society, honor roll, and the cheerleading squad while she was busy showing hogs,” said Anna Freeman’s mother, Kim Freeman. “Now is not much different than then. She has dance two to five times a week, sorority events, full time classes, but she still has time to show her hogs and help her sister begin showing.”
Freeman says now that she’s in college she doesn’t show as much as she once did but she enjoys helping her sister, Lily Grace, begin her show career.
“My little sister Lily Grace has now started showing so I somewhat put my show life on hold to help her. I still go to the shows and sell pigs but I really enjoy helping her now,” said Freeman.
Now that she is in college she enjoys telling people about her life outside of classes and dance. Many people look at her with her blonde hair and sparkly dance outfit and can’t believe she and her family raise hogs.
“People think it’s hilarious when I tell them I raise hogs,” said Freeman.
Even though she doesn’t show hogs as much as she once did, the life lessons, time management, and responsibility she learned from the hogs has helped her in college and become a more well-rounded person, Kim Freeman said.
“It doesn’t matter if she’s in heels on a pageant stage, a leotard on a dance stage or in boots in a show ring, Anna stays true to herself and that makes her a very well-rounded person,” said Kim Freeman.
Even though college is a time to find your true self and mature in many ways, it’s still the experiences of your childhood that make individuals grow as a person and become who they are. Whether it’s showing hogs or dancing, like girly girl Anna Freeman, everyone has a unique hobby that has given them an experience they won’t forget.