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World Championship Irish pig race
Seventeen 130-lb. pigs racing down Main Street may not be a rival to the Kentucky Derby but it makes for one huge civic celebration and community fundraiser in Peace River, Alb.
Aptly titled the "World Championship Irish Pig Race" because it's the only one of its kind, the race is held on a weekend close to St. Patrick's Day and is the highlight of weekend-long festivities.
Gordon Gardner, organizer of this year's event, told FARM SHOW that the race first started in 1919 and continued for the next 20 years before being discontinued. Eight years ago it was revived, becoming more popular each year and now draws spectators from as far as 600 miles away.
The racing pigs, purchased from a local hog producer prior to the race, have no previous race training. At the race site, harnesses are put on each pig for one member of the race team to hold onto. The second team member is a "hazer" who tries to coax uncooperative porkers along. Each of the 17 teams entered pays $100 for the hog and harness.
With the start of the race, the hogs and teams are off in the battle to be first to complete the four-block course. This year's winning team, the Scarlet Runners, completed the course in one minute, 26 seconds.
Other contestants needed more coaxing. Four didn't even make it to the finish line. Gardner notes that strict rules ensure that no inhumane practices are used.
Whether the hogs win or lose, they are all slaughtered after the race and auctioned off as part of the weekend festivities. Prices go high as local businessmen bid for the hogs in a sale similar to 4-H livestock sales at county fairs. Part of the sale proceeds go to the winning race team and part to the Kinsmen, a Peace River civic group which uses the money for community development. This year's winning team received $2,500.


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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #4