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Time to pig out at Fair

Spectators of the Alaskan Pig Races all have reasons for rooting for certain porcine contestants. ‘I liked Strawberry, because she was pretty and adorable,’ one says.

August 05, 2009|By Paul Oginni

It may be summer, but the Orange County Fair got a taste of Alaska on Wednesday during the Alaskan Pig Races.

The pigs scuttled around a miniature track at the Ralph’s Family Fair Way at 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m.

“It was very exciting,” said Laurie Jacobs, who came with her kids. “The kids liked it — they rooted for Kobuck [the pig].”

The event was composed of four races. Each time, four pigs took the track and the top two advanced.

After two preliminary rounds, the remaining four pigs battled for the top spot in the final race.

Some of the bottom contestants got a second chance to prove themselves during the obstacle races, which required the pigs to clear two hurdles that were placed along the track.

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This race was especially popular with the crowd.

“I didn’t think they would be able to jump over the hurdles,” said Janelle Beaird, who saw the pigs race in July.

Wednesday, Soapy Smith emerged as the final champion.

According to race announcer Donald Noll, the pigs get fiercely competitive when the gates fly open.

“It’s mainly a competition between themselves,” he said. “They are partly motivated by the food, and partly by competition. The first pig to the finish line gets the biggest bite of the food.”

Noll does his best to keep the pigs comfortable and relaxed.

“Pigs don’t generally like to be picked up,” he said. “It’s uncomfortable for them. So we try to keep that to a minimum.”

There were eight pigs total, and each seemed to have some fans in the crowd.

Jennifer Fisher and her kids have been fans of Kobuck for three years now.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “My daughter loves it. Each year, she cheers louder and louder.”

Different spectators had different reasons for liking each pig.

“I liked Soapy Smith because I have a friend from England whose last name is Smith,” said Alex Aceytuno.

Emma McGurk, however, had a different opinion.

“I liked Strawberry, because she was pretty and adorable,” she said. “I really want to get her. It was so cute when she jumped over the hurdles.”

In the words of spectator Maddi Green, the races were “mondo epic.”

For more photos, click here.

They Said It

“I liked the way Soapy Smith ran — really fast.”

— Evan Aceytuno

“I liked Soapy Smith because I have a friend from England, and his last name is Smith.”

— Alex Aceytuno

“[The pig races] were great. And I liked the elephants too.”

— Daniel Baxter Cross

“I liked Strawberry [the pig]. I also liked riding the big slide, and the face painting.”

— Katelyn Fisher


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