BURTON — The pig races proved to be a huge hit at the 197th Annual Great Geauga County Fair this year, drawing a crowd of more than 100 spectators to see the swine race around the track in pursuit of an Oreo cookie. The crowd roared as the pigs raced, and the tiny tots cheered on their favorite pigs during each heat.
This was one of many events at the annual fair where 227,906 people attended from Aug. 29 to Labor Day Monday. Fair Secretary Paul Harris said attendance was up by 3,000 over last year.
For the pig races, men and women of all ages were tickled pink with the names of the pigs, including Spongehog Squealpants and Albert Swinestein on the men’s team. No matter which pig won, the crowd erupted with cheers following each race.
Spectators started to gather nearly an hour before the start time of the pig race to secure their seats. The worn, wooden stands filled up fast, children took their seats on the grass around the racetrack and the latecomers pooled nearby in an attempt to keep a clear view of the pigs. The crowd was filled with anticipation before the race began as they listened to the blasting country music in the background.
Keven Fazio, 57, and Jennifer Loose, 53, both of Solon, said that they make an annual trip to the fair. They arrived at the pig race early to grab a seat, and said that they enjoy the food and the various shows to keep the attendees entertained.
“We’ve been to other fairs but this is the best one in Ohio,” Mr. Fazio said.
The children cheered with excitement as the announcer, also known as the swinemaster, introduced each team of pigs. There were three teams at the 2 p.m. race on Sunday – men, women and NASCAR. After Spongehog Squealpants won the first round, the women’s team took to the track, which was painted bright red, along with checkered racing flags hanging above. Vanna Swine won against competitors Hamma Montana and Peppa Pig.
Pigs in the NASCAR heat were named Jeff Gordham, Richard Piggy and Dale Earnhog after famous drivers Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Dale Earnhog secured first place, then all three teams competed in one final round, which the men’s team won.
Maria Cowoski, 13, of Bainbridge nibbled on elephant ears prior to the start of the pig race. She said that she likes many aspects of the fair, including seeing the livestock, experiencing the shows and sampling the food. Maria said that her family comes to the fair every year.
Samantha Kleiman, 5, of Solon watched the pig races with her father, Boris, 47, following a friend’s birthday party that was held at the fair.
“We have a lot of fun at the fair,” she said.
The fair offered something for everyone, ranging from amusement park rides to drag racing to truck and tractor pulls. Members of 4-H brought their horses, cattle, rabbits and other animals to the fair, and the musical group Geauga Highlanders Pipes and Drums marched through the fairgrounds. Bakers entered their delectable creations for judging with hopes that the famous “baked goods bandit” would not return for a bite to eat.