Swine Time is special

Published 7:49 am Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Saturday after Thanksgiving each year, I begin my day covering the annual 5,000-meter, 3.1-mile Swine Time Festival Run in Climax.

I have many memories of those runs through the years. There was the time the race winner told me his reaction after hearing a big boar hog let out a snort as he ran by the late Mr. Earl Hester’s hog farm improved his time by 15 seconds.

As a proud honorary member of the Climax Community Club, a former Swine Time parade grand marshal, and possibly the only non-Climax resident who has attended all 34 Swine Times, I look forward to the big event each year.

What makes Swine Time special is the great community involvement it brings about.

There are also sports elements to Swine Time. I remember the year Climax native Earnie Riles—a “USA Today” Rookie of the Year with the Milwaukee Brewers, who went on to have an outstanding major league baseball career—was Swine Time grand marshal.

That same year, the honorable Joe Frank Harris, then governor of Georgia, was also a special Swine Time guest.

Prior to that Swine Time, I wrote a story in the paper with a headline that read, “Riles, Harris to be at Swine Time.” My dear friend, former Post-Searchlight publisher Sam Griffin Jr., came back to my desk and said, “Joe, you gave Earnie Riles a bigger billing than the governor.”

I simply smiled and replied that Earnie had had a better year than the governor.

After riding in the Swine Time parade that year, Earnie sat at a table and signed photos for kids from Climax and throughout Decatur County.

Swine Time is also special because my brother, Tom, a computer programmer who lives in Sharpsburg, Ga., comes down each year to run in the Swine Time Run, and we have an opportunity to spend some quality time together.

In 1975, when Climax leaders announced that they were going to begin having a town festival called Swine Time the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year, I was there to take a picture of them as they gathered around a big hog in downtown Climax.

My dear friend, Mr. Clifford Wells, was president of the Climax Community Club that year. He and his wife, Mrs. Fannie Wells, are two of my favorite people.

Mrs. Darlene Collins, this year’s Climax Community Club president, continued the great tradition of putting on a first-class festival year in and year out.

Climax people are some of the most caring people I have ever been around.

Just last week, Climax native James Butler Jr., starting safety for the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, provided Thanksgiving dinner for many needy Decatur County families. His proud parents are the Rev. James and Nadine Butler of Climax.

Way to go Climax citizens. You are at the top of my list.