Another year of greased pigs and fried chitterling eating

Published 11:46 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Above, children chase a greased pig for a prize at Swine Time. -- Ashley Johnson

Above, children chase a greased pig for a prize at Swine Time. — Ashley Johnson

CLIMAX — The small town of Climax has a population of less than 500 people, which is why many marvel at the fact that once a year a crowd larger than 5,000 can gather for swine.
This year the 39th annual Swine Time Festival kicked off the same day as every year since its inception — the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as one can read from the large painted sign on Main Street in Climax.
Some come to see old friends, others try their first plate of chitterlings and children make an attempt at catching a greasy pig for a cash prize.
“You gotta just grab them by the legs and hang on,” Chip Wray, swine handler explained about trying to catch a greasy pig. Each year the festival concludes with one main contest — a greasy pig chase. A pig from a local farm is slathered in cooking oil from a large drum. The pig and a pack of children (each pack a differing age group) are entered into a small wire-fenced arena where a great chase ensues and parents look on taking photos. The winner receives a cash prize.
“There isn’t really a secret to it I guess, but its more about not being afraid of the hogs,” Bubba Hester, a charter Swine Time volunteer said about the pig chase and all of his 39 years running the contest. “A lot of the kids are scared of the hogs because they haven’t ever touched one before. It takes a lot of luck and don’t trip.
“You are supposed to catch a hog by the leg, but these kids just grab it any way they can.”
Some chases ended quickly, while others seemed to be a never-ending. In the 10-year-old age bracket a pig was pinned down, but then crawled through participants’ legs, extending the contest another several minutes.
Another fan favorite is the chitterling-eating contest. With hands behind their backs contestants in the male and female categories lean in face-first into a paper plate of chitterling crumbs. The one named winner is the first one to, “clean their plate like a pig,” the announcer said.
Aaron Pearson has volunteered serving the chitterlings and running the stage for the last five years. He has watched contestants succeed and fail in the chitterling contest.
“I have seen a lot of people get sick,” Pearson said. He laughed that his favorite part of the contest is all of the banter and chatter before the contest.
Some contestants talk big while others are just competing to get a free plate of chitterlings and try it for the very first time.
Mayor of Climax, Charles Hadsock, said everyone seemed to have a great time this year.
“The crowd really picked up in the afternoon,” Hadsock noted. Organizers estimate more than 5,000 attended this year.

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