Only in small town America will you find several members of a community come together on a Saturday night for a pig dressing competition.
A highlight of the Smithton Town and Country Fair for several years, the event began as a way for the older youth to have something to do at the fair.
“We have a lot of things for the little ones to do,” Greg Wehrman, a Smithton fair board director, said. “We tried street dances and backseat driving competitions but nothing really seemed to take off until we tried this.”
The event has gotten to be so popular that a limit has been set for the number of entries each year.
“We can only have 15 teams,” Dane Kroeger, a fair board director and pig dressing event chair, said. “My dad was in charge of this for a number of years and he even had to limit the number of teams back when he was doing the contest.
“It really is fun to watch people run and fall and get dirty while trying to catch a pig,” Kroeger added. “That’s the best part.”
The rules of the contest are simple. Three team members each start in a different area of a 20-foot wide pit.
The members have to catch the pig and then each member has to put an article of clothing on the pig in a set order. The pigs are outfitted in a bra, pair of underwear and a T-shirt.
“The pit is filled with 2,000 gallons of water,” Kroeger said. “We try to make it pretty soupy because if the mud is thick, the pigs are much easier to catch.”
Kroeger, whose family has been raising hogs for 65 years, said there is a practical aspect to knowing how to catch a pig.
“It really is a necessary skill to have if you are going to raise hogs,” Kroeger said. “If a pig is sick and you need to get it to the vet you have to know how to catch them.”
Kroeger said it is best to catch the pig by a back leg.
To make the contest a little more difficult — or fun depending on your perspective — the animals are covered in cooking oil prior to being released in the pit.
“We get about 100 gallons of cooking oil and coat the pigs with a dressing of it,” Wehrman said. “We want the contestants to have a bit of a challenge with the contest.”
“I think we have a strategy to win,” Matt Teeter said. “We don’t want to go first, and we’re praying for a small, kind, pig.”
Teeter, who began his job as the new superintendent of Smithton Schools July 1, recruited Jonathan Petersen, Smithton high school principal, and Cindy Snow, director of special services at the school, to round out the team.
The trio placed with a time of one minute: 43:42.
The winning team of Wesley Wells, Jacob McMullin and Bob Slaughter had a time of 51:90 seconds. They took home $100 for their efforts.
Second place went to the team of Jami Wells, Natashia McMullin and Shawna Asbury with a time of 52.96 seconds.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484