Agriculture has a way of bringing families together in a special way, including the Palmer family. Six-year-old Grace Grasty has been showing pigs and lambs at the N.C. State Fair since she was two-years-old! According to her parents, these animals, in addition to her other hobbies like dancing and gardening, have given Grace an outlet to express herself, overcome obstacles and impact the lives of countless other people.
In 2016, Kathy and her husband Manley began fostering Grace and gained full guardianship of her the following year. “Grace was a surprise to us because we also have three other children, one adopted daughter and two biological sons,” Kathy said, “however, Grace is a part of our family and we knew that God was calling us to bring her in and raise her in a way that would not only change our lives but also create a beautiful story.”
Prior to having children, Kathy and Manley were relatively removed from the world of agriculture. “We always had an appreciation for the world of agriculture and the hard work of our local farmers, but neither of us grew up on a farm or had a hand in raising animals and growing flowers or produce until our children came along,” Kathy said. Both their sons, Trey and Gray, grew up showing animals, and still enjoy it today. Trey and his wife Audrey currently own and operate PG-13 Livestock that focuses on raising and showing lambs, which paid off for them this year as Trey’s sister-in-law, Maggie Glass, took home the banner for Grand Champion Lamb and Grand Champion Got To Be NC Lamb at the 2021 N.C. State Fair.
Gray, however, not only shows his own animals but also helps Grace learn how to raise, handle and show her lamb and pigs. “All of our children are very close, but Gray takes special pride in helping teach Grace what he has learned throughout showing,” Kathy said, “it’s a beautiful thing to watch them bond over the animals and grow together in this endeavor.” Gray was Champion Senior Swine Showman this year and had the Supreme Champion Gilt. Her brother Trey has also earned the honors of Champion Senior Swine Showman in the past at the NC State Fair.
At two-years-old, Grace started her adventure in agriculture at the N.C. State Fair with her pig Little Man. In fact, Grace and Little Man had matching bows to help Grace remember which pig was hers in the arena. “We still have a photo of them together,” Kathy said, “it was the cutest thing.” This year, Grace took the arena both with her pig Bentley and her lamb Sprout. Although she loves showing lambs, her pride and joy is with the pigs because she loves walking Bentley around. “We are always so proud of her at these shows, but this year was a huge surprise for all of us,” Kathy said.
At the conclusion of the Got To Be N.C. Swine Show at the N.C. State Fair, Grace and her family received a beautiful and wonderful surprise when Grace heard her name being called as the Grand Champion. “She immediately started sobbing out of happiness and ran into the arms of her brother,” Kathy said, “we were all shocked but bursting with pride for her. She has worked several years for this banner and recognition. We couldn’t be happier for her hard work to shine through and pay off.” The judge of the swine show was impressed with Grace’s ability to handle her pig, Bentley, around the arena at such a young age. “I am not sure how we will top this day,” he said. Not only did Grace take home the banner for Grand Champion hog, but she was also third overall for the barrow show and champion in the lightweight division. “God has a real sense of humor sometimes and knows exactly what we need,” Kathy said, “we are so proud of Grace for this accomplishment and Gray for all his help training with her.”
Grace is well-known at the State Fair livestock shows for her outgoing and energetic personality. “We always say that her personality is bigger than she is,” Kathy jokes, “but really, her smile can light up a room and she is friendly with everyone she meets.” Kathy also believes that working with the animals has given Grace a very nurturing spirit that shines through to all those she interacts with. “Grace’s path may not be traditional, but you can’t begrudge the path because it is what ultimately leads you to your destination,” Kathy said, “you can only hope that future paths will be better and work towards those and we are proud of all that Grace is doing, within agriculture and beyond, to create that future for herself that she is more than deserving of.”
Grace and her family celebrated their success at Angus Barn on the Friday following the livestock shows. We are honored to have young people like Trey, Grace and Gray representing the strong future of our agriculture industry. Be sure to look for them at livestock shows nationally and around the state, and cheer them on as they showcase their beloved animals.