All's fair in Ninilchik

Pigs fly as events get under way

Posted: Sunday, August 22, 2004

With a theme like the "Days of Swine and Roses," one would expect there to be pigs-a-plenty, and this year's Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik certainly delivers.

As the racers were herded into the starting chute, several spectators began to wager on which they thought would win the first Kenai Peninsula Pig Races.

"I like Number Two. He look like he's ready to race," said John Bell of Willow, and his pick turned out to be a good one.

Number Two blasted from the starting line in a pink blur. Sawdust flew up with every beat of his tiny hooves as the swift swine pulled ahead of his two competitors to the cheers of the crowd.

"Go Two. You can do it," screamed Bell, as the competition was right on Number Two's curly tail.

Rounding the corner into the final stretch, Number Two was running snout to snout with the other racers, but as they crossed the finish line, it was Number Two that claimed victory.

 

Ray Smith of Anchorage, Jon Bell of Willow and Robert Combs of Wasilla cheer for the pigs they picked.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

"Yeah, I called it. I knew he had it in him," said Bell, as he went to collect his cash and prizes for picking the winning porker in all three heats of the races.

Most of the races ran smoothly, but a few did not.

"Even when things were going wrong, the crowd seemed like they had just as much fun," said Mary Clock, fair manager for the past five years.

Clock was responsible for dividing six pigs into two groups for separate heats, and then dividing out the winners of the two heats for a final championship.

It sounds easier than it was, and Clock was the first to admit it after being dodged and duped by the swift swine, much to the delight of crowd of onlookers.

"It was a bit chaotic. Pigs were going every which way. We had pigs coming in where they were supposed to be going out, and going out where they were supposed to be coming in. I think I ran as much as they did," she said.

 

Hollywood actor Ernest Borgnine checks out a jar of fireweek jelly at the Kenai Peninsula State Fair.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

Penning pigs may not have been in the job description when she signed on to manage the fair, but Clock said she enjoyed it nonetheless.

"It was a lot of fun, and I think everyone enjoyed it, so I'm hoping it will become an annual event," she said.

The races were the newest, but not the only pig-themed attraction at this year's fair.

The 4-H and Future Farmer of America (FAA) Market Livestock judging and auction featured several hogs, as well as steer, sheep, chickens and other barnyard animals.

"I think the 4-H event is incredible," said Lisa Schmitter of Soldotna.

"The kids that participate in this event work very hard all year long, and this is where they get to see the fruits of their labor. They get to show their animals, hang out and just have fun," Schmitter said.

The numerous concessions stands at this year's fair offer a variety of tasty pork items such as corn dogs, hot dogs and sausages that also fit into the swine theme.

There also is an abundance of other food items, including turkey legs, steak sandwiches, pizza and tacos.

No fair would be complete without sweets, and there were many to choose from, such as elephants ears, mini-doughnuts and ice cream floats.

"The food is the main reason I come," said Ray Douglas of Kenai. "I try to eat my way through from one end of the fair to the other, sampling as many things as a I can."

After filling up in the food court, many spectators choose to walk off a few calories by perusing their way through the exhibit hall.

"I like to look at all the vegetables. It's an effort to grow things here and so it shows a lot of hard work to grow things this big," said Lucille Egge of Kenai.

"Also, I'm from the old school, so I like to look at all the baked goods, and jarred jams, jellies and other items. It's fun to look at when you don't do it anymore," Egge said.

She wasn't the only one impressed with the jarred items. Hollywood film star Ernest Borgnine, here on vacation, poked into the fair Friday and was amazed with what he saw.

"This is my first time at this fair, but I'm glad I came. It's really a lovely fair. Where else can you find fireweed jelly like this," he said, holding up a pint of the pink preserves.

The fair continues today until 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for youths, and for children under 6 is free.

Ray Smith of Anchorage, Jon Bell of Willow and Robert Combs of Wasilla cheer for the pigs they picked.

Pigs fly as events get under way

All's fair in Ninilchik

Photos by Joseph Robertia A crowd of onlookers cheer as three swift swine compete in the first Kenai Peninsula Pig Races at the Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik on Friday. Fair organizers are hoping to make the event an annual occurrence.

By JOSEPH ROBERTIA

Peninsula Clarion

With a theme like the "Days of Swine and Roses," one would expect there to be pigs-a-plenty, and this year's Kenai Peninsula State Fair in Ninilchik certainly delivers.

As the racers were herded into the starting chute, several spectators began to wager on which they thought would win the first Kenai Peninsula Pig Races.

"I like Number Two. He look like he's ready to race," said John Bell of Willow, and his pick turned out to be a good one.

Number Two blasted from the starting line in a pink blur. Sawdust flew up with every beat of his tiny hooves as the swift swine pulled ahead of his two competitors to the cheers of the crowd.

"Go Two. You can do it," screamed Bell, as the competition was right on Number Two's curly tail.

Rounding the corner into the final stretch, Number Two was running snout to snout with the other racers, but as they crossed the finish line, it was Number Two that claimed victory.

"Yeah, I called it. I knew he had it in him," said Bell, as he went to collect his cash and prizes for picking the winning porker in all three heats of the races.

Most of the races ran smoothly, but a few did not.

"Even when things were going wrong, the crowd seemed like they had just as much fun," said Mary Clock, fair manager for the past five years.

Clock was responsible for dividing six pigs into two groups for separate heats, and then dividing out the winners of the two heats for a final championship.

It sounds easier than it was, and Clock was the first to admit it after being dodged and duped by the swift swine, much to the delight of crowd of onlookers.

"It was a bit chaotic. Pigs were going every which way. We had pigs coming in where they were supposed to be going out, and going out where they were supposed to be coming in. I think I ran as much as they did," she said.

Penning pigs may not have been in the job description when she signed on to manage the fair, but Clock said she enjoyed it nonetheless.

"It was a lot of fun, and I think everyone enjoyed it, so I'm hoping it will become an annual event," she said.

The races were the newest, but not the only pig-themed attraction at this year's fair.

The 4-H and Future Farmer of America (FAA) Market Livestock judging and auction featured several hogs, as well as steer, sheep, chickens and other barnyard animals.

"I think the 4-H event is incredible," said Lisa Schmitter of Soldotna.

"The kids that participate in this event work very hard all year long, and this is where they get to see the fruits of their labor. They get to show their animals, hang out and just have fun," Schmitter said.

The numerous concessions stands at this year's fair offer a variety of tasty pork items such as corn dogs, hot dogs and sausages that also fit into the swine theme.

There also is an abundance of other food items, including turkey legs, steak sandwiches, pizza and tacos.

No fair would be complete without sweets, and there were many to choose from, such as elephants ears, mini-doughnuts and ice cream floats.

"The food is the main reason I come," said Ray Douglas of Kenai. "I try to eat my way through from one end of the fair to the other, sampling as many things as a I can."

After filling up in the food court, many spectators choose to walk off a few calories by perusing their way through the exhibit hall.

"I like to look at all the vegetables. It's an effort to grow things here and so it shows a lot of hard work to grow things this big," said Lucille Egge of Kenai.

"Also, I'm from the old school, so I like to look at all the baked goods, and jarred jams, jellies and other items. It's fun to look at when you don't do it anymore," Egge said.

She wasn't the only one impressed with the jarred items. Hollywood film star Ernest Borgnine, here on vacation, poked into the fair Friday and was amazed with what he saw.

"This is my first time at this fair, but I'm glad I came. It's really a lovely fair. Where else can you find fireweed jelly like this," he said, holding up a pint of the pink preserves.

The fair continues today until 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for youths, and for children under 6 is free.



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