It’s finally here, the Ag Fair! There’s a bit more excitement in the air and the Island is packed with people. After all, who doesn’t love the fair, and we all have a favorite thing to do when there. Something special that we look forward to all Summer long. Whether it’s seeing all the animals, the skillet toss, the tracter pulls, the rides, eating yourself silly with fair food, or the games it’s just plain fun for the kid in all of us.
One of my favorite things about the fair is Robinson’s Pig Racing. Yes, I am a sucker for those sweet little piggies. This love affair started at a young age for me, when I would go the Altamont Fair in New York as a kid. Seeing four or five piglets racing around a track for an Oreo, does it get much cuter? Those cute little things were my favorite attraction even then, and nothing makes me smile more, now as a big kid.
So, when I was thinking about what to blog about regarding the Ag Fair, naturally it had to be Robinson’s Racing Pigs. Though I was also thinking about doing a rating of all the delicious, super healthy fair food, I thought my waistline would prefer I write about pigs rather than being a pig. Although I certainly did have my fair share of fair food novelties.
Knocking on the Robinson’s Racing Pigs’ trailer door, I had no idea what to expect. Out comes, Randal Ross, who is all smiles, and all about sharing a little “pigstory” with me (hehehe). We got right into it. Robinson’s Pig Racing started 28 years ago at the Florida State Fair. Paul Robinson had the brilliant idea to bring it to the fair to draw more people.
Not knowing how it would be received, he hired Randal with a guarantee of two weeks of work at the fair doing pig racing. By the end of those two weeks, there were a dozen bookings for those racing pigs. They had a hit on their hand. Who would have known? Randal was going to be spending a lot more than two weeks with those racing pigs.
Let’s talk a bit about these special, fast little pigs. They use three types, Florida Wild Pigs, Yorkshires, and good ole Pot Belly pigs. The fasted are the Yorkshire. These little guys run about 15-20 miles an hour to get that sweet little Oreo cookie. The pigs you see racing are only a couple months old because they will grow up to be big pigs.
At four weeks old, the piglets begin training, and at six weeks they’re ready to race. All of this training is done on Randal’s farm in Florida where he has 125-150 pigs. Many of the pigs have been a part of his family for 22-23 years. They have a lot of help with the pigs and races, but Randal likes to be a part of our fair.
I learned a thing or two from Randal about pigs. For example, I didn’t know that pigs love to swim, or that they each have their own little personality, or that they love to cuddle and be touched like the family dog does. I never really thought of a 300-pound in that way before, but now I know, for when the opportunity arises.
Speaking of swimming, in 1999, Robinson’s Pig Racing added swimming to their racing routines which is seriously cute to0, Robinson’s Racing Pig Paddling Porkers. It seems as though everything these little things do is cute.
Also, why oreos? Another thing I never associated with pigs before. I would have thought some sort of slop or carrot or something more pig like. But from their extensive research back in the ’80’s, Oreos and only Oreos, seem to get those babies moving. They tried strwaberries and corn and the like, but those pigs have a sweet tooth, and are a sucker for that Oreo. Who isn’t I guess.
So, now that I knew a little bit more about the pigs, I wanted to know about Randal, and how he got into this business. Did he always want to work with pigs? The answer is no. Before this, he was a mechanic but fate intervened. He was at the right place at the right time, and was there from the beginning when Paul Robinson started this phenomenon. As a matter of fact, Paul left the business to Randal and his wife Sharon.
After all these years, Randal still enjoys his work. They’re on the road for six months out of the year. Their outfit does 100 – 120 events in those six months. During the down time, he and his wife spend their time with the pigs on their farm in Florida, and Randal gets itchin’ to travel again, only after a couple of weeks of being home. He misses seeing all the people and different places. For him, nothing beats the smiles and reactions from the crowds of people who watch the racing, and of course, he loves his racing piglets.
All the pigs have clever names like Britney Spareribs (who happens to be Randal’s favorite little racing diva), Lindsay Slowham, Arnold Schwarzenhogger, Snoop Hoggie, Hoggie and more. Soon as the names are announced, you can hear the laughter in the crowds that the names alone elicit.
Next the racing pigs are lined up for racing. Each pig is color coded and gets its own section of the crowd to cheer for it, and Randal selects a head cheerleader to help with the cheering. It’s usually a child, and boy is that little one pretty darn excited. Once the race begins, the crowd cheers and cheers, and the winning pig gets that Oreo and the winning pig’s cheerleader gets a special blue ribbon. Don’t feel too bad, the loosing pigs get some Oreo crumbs so they don’t miss out completely. Kind of a life lesson here right? The winner gets the goods and the loser gets the crumbs. Such deep thoughts can come about from watching pig racing.
So, when heading to the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair this year, be certain to go at a time when you can sit and watch Robinson’s Pig Racing. I didn’t realize when I went on Friday that there are only three precious races a day, so plan wisely my friends.
The races begin at 12 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. Get there early for a good seat because the races are packed with kids of all ages. I hope you enjoy those cute racing pigs as much as I do. Not to get too sentimental about pigs but I love that I watched them with Randal when I was a kid and now I’m doing the same thing with my little ones.
Have a great time at the Ag Fair, check out the schedule and enjoy these few precious remaining days of Summer.