EATON — Oinkers for Art stole the show during the annual Preble County Pork Festival, held Saturday, Sept. 16-Sunday, Sept. 17. The festival featured family fun, educational opportunities, crafts and other items for sale, and pork products aplenty. However, the painted pig auction was a stand-out during the two-day celebration.
Oinkers for Art is a collaborative fundraiser between the Preble County Art Association and the Preble County Pork Festival. It calls for artists, clubs, businesses, individuals, churches, and anyone interested to submit a design for a painted pig. If selected, the pig is painted and displayed throughout Downtown Eaton.
Voting was held throughout the day on Saturday with a penny vote and the pigs were auctioned at 5 p.m. on Saturday. First, the winners of the penny vote were announced and auctioned off, followed by the rest of the pigs.
Third place and honorable mention went to the Farmer’s Daughter. This pig painter was awarded $50. The Farmer’s Daughter pig was painted black and white, with a farm mural on its side.
Reserve Champion and $75 was awarded to Samantha Gramaglia. Her pig was painted bright pink with flowers covering its body. The pink pig was bought for $350.
Gramaglia said, “My mom wanted me to paint one, because she really likes pigs. We weren’t sure how we were supposed to do it and we were at the Art Center and they had a sign up sheet. I did it kind of late, but then they said we could paint it. My mom and I painted it together.
“I was really happy to get second place. My mom was going to buy it, but someone else got it. He’s going to put it at his house. I think this auction is awesome. I’m going to try to do it again next year.”
Grand Champion and $100 was awarded to Greenbriar Senior Campus. Their pig was painted as a flag with “America the Beautiful” detailed on its side.
Greenbriar Admissions Director Viktorya Howard said, “We wanted a positive message and something American themed. I’m super excited to have won Grand Champion. This is the third year we have painted a pig, but the first year we’ve won. We bought our pig back during the auction. We wanted to bring it back for the residents to enjoy.
“The residents have seen a drawing of the pig, but they haven’t actually seen it yet. They’re really stoked. We’re going to put it by the flag pole. I think this auction is a great fundraiser for the Art’s Council and Pork Festival. It’s a lot of fun and I’m really excited.”
While the painted pig auction does function as a large attraction for the festival, it was not the only thing to see at the Pork Festival.
As always, the festival kicked off with a parade from Downtown Eaton to the Fair Grounds. Many floats and bands participated in the spectacular parade.
The high school bands were separated into four classes: AA, A, B, and C.
Wayne High School Band was the only AA Class.
Eaton High School Band was the only A Class.
Shenandoah High School Band, Dixie High School Band, National Trail High School Band, and Preble Shawnee High School Band were all B Class. Shenandoah got first place, Dixie got second place, and National Trail got third place.
Tri-County North High School Band, Mississinawa Valley High School Band, and Twin Valley South were all C Class. Tri-County North got first place, Mississinawa Valley got second place, and Twin Valley South got third place.
As for float awards, the displays were judged on five different categories: Best Pork Industry Related Theme Entry, Best Commercial Entry, Most Colorful Entry, Best Preble County Organization Entry, and Judge’s Choice.
Mike Loy’s Collision won Best Pork Industry Related Theme.
Preble County Chiropractic won Best Commercial.
Girl Scouts of Western Ohio won Most Colorful.
L&M Products won Best Preble County Organization.
Covenant of Peace Church won Judge’s Choice.
This year’s event was slightly different from previous years. There was supposed to be more animals, including racing pigs and camel rides, but due to scheduling conflicts they could not make the festival on Saturday. However, the racing pigs were present on Sunday.
The education portion of the festival expanded into three barns, featuring 11 different breeds of pigs and hands-on activities. Eaton FFA Chapter even stepped up to host “barn games” in lieu of the missing racing pigs on Saturday.
The biggest change came in the loss of the smorgasbord, but while that festival favorite was gone, there was a new food venue called the “Chop Stop.”
As part of the Junior Fair Royalty, Pork Queen Macel Stowers had to work the fair and neighboring fairs like all of her peers. Unlike them, she has a festival all to herself in the Pork Festival.
“As Pork Queen, I was at the fair and I showed pigs, then I did my queenly duties. I went to different fairs, but now I have my own festival. I rode in the parade by myself and I didn’t have to ride on the golf cart this time,” she said.
“I get to walk around, talk to the festival goers, and talk to the kids. I get to play games, because I am part of National Trail FFA, so I work the educational booth. I get to tell people where they need to go and give them information. I get to share smiles with the whole community.”
After talking about her duties as the reigning Pork Queen, she did have one thing to say about the nature of the Pork Festival and what it means to her.
“I’d like to say that the Pork Festival is not a craft show. A lot of people expect it to be — a lot of people who aren’t from around here think it is just a craft show. It’s not. It is about everybody who works their tails off to get here. Especially, the education booth. My grandma and I were walking through it and she said, ‘This is what the Pork Festival should be.’
“A lot of people look forward to looking at the crafts and that’s fine,” Stowers added. “I love to look at the crafts myself, but I feel like a lot of people need to be more educated.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH