EATON – The weather on Saturday, Sept. 17, had people hiding inside the Expo building at Preble County’s Pork Festival. Even worse, the parking lot, being a field, turned into a muddy mess by the end of the night — but the Pork Festival committee expects these things to happen. The same crew which helps park cars was out there to push out anyone who got stuck.
They had to push out many cars. But, despite the rain, Saturday evening brought a large crowd to the festival celebrating the pork industry.
Most attractions at the Pork Festival are not time specific, so visitors can attend them all day long. Attendees could visit the Country Store, craft exhibitors’ booths, hot dog stands, the petting zoo, the souvenir tent, the children’s pig art display, Just for Kids Farm Safety, Kids Corner, or an Ohio Pork Producers Association presentation — and for hungry shoppers, a visit to theShort Order Porkhaus and the BBQ Porkchop Smorgasbord was necessary.
Similarly, the pig races took place throughout the day. However, there are reasons to come at certain points in the day.
The main attraction on Saturday evening was the third annual Oinkers for Art Auction.
This was a collaboration between the Preble County Pork Festival and the Preble County Art Center. There was a call for art submissions and nine were chosen by the committee. Pigs were painted on Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Eaton Earlybird Farmer’s Market.
After their design was complete, painted pigs were displayed along the parade route so residents could see the art and start planning which pig they were going to vote for.
The voting process was as unique as the painted pigs themselves. The pigs were on display in front of Rotary Junction at the fairgrounds, and the public was able to vote using a penny vote (giving cents to the pigs they wanted to win). First place won $100, 2nd $75, and 3rd $50.
The pigs entered were painted by: Blue Star Mothers of America, Summit Chiropractic, Greenbriar Senior Campus, Hanhah Wojcik, Spicy Bois, Preble County District Library, Preble Trails, Essence of Wellness, and Preble County Council on Aging.
The pigs were set up on a wagon pulled onto the Rotary Junction walkway, pulling in additional onlookers.
The winners included first place, Preble County Council on Aging; second place went to Summit Chiropractic for their pig “Sugar” who apparently got a lot of “Facebook action” over the week leading up to the festival; and third place went to Essence of Wellness for their “Pig in a Blanket.”
Auctioneer Lucky Montoya joined the pigs on the wagon and began the auction. He started by having the large crowd “practice putting their hands in the air” so the auction would go quickly – everyone was scared of the oncoming rain.
And ongoing joke Montoya would pull was to tell husbands, “Don’t look at her! Look at me!” for permission to bid.
Montoya auctioned the pigs off in order of those which won, and then went “down the line.”
Bid winners were:
• Preble County Council on Aging sold their pig for $450.
• Summit Chiropractic sold “Sugar” for $400
• Essence of Wellness sold theirs for $300 to an auction goer who wanted a bidding war, but started off her bid too high.
• The same bidder came back and bought Blue Stars Mothers of America’s “Stars and Stripes” themed pig for $250.
• Preble Trails had a “Share the Road”-themed pig which sold for $775 to Judge Bill Dues, to become the highest selling pig.
• Greenbriar Senior Campus sold their pig for $325.
• Preble County District Library also had a “Ziggy Stardust”-themed big — it sold for $200.
• Hanhah Wojcik’s Ohio Bicentenial pig sold to a county commissioner for $375.
• Spicy Bois’ Pokemon-themed pig sold for $300.
The bidder who bought two pigs had planned only to buy the Essence of Wellness pig, but she “saw [the Blue Stars Mothers of America’s pig] and thought, ‘let’s get the prices up!’” She added, “I’ve always wanted one, and now I have two.”
Judge Dues said he also planned to buy his pig, as Representative of the Youth foundation he wanted to represent his partner, Preble Trails. He explained, “Preble Trails is a partner of ours. We’re gonna put their logo and our logo on the pig to show our support for them. They’re doing a wonderful job; their mission fits right into our mission – to make a better environment for the family.”
They’re going to put the pig in front of the YMCA so “everyone coming in the Y can see the partnership,” Dues said.
Another familiar face could be spotted in attendance at the auction, that of Pork Queen Kerriston Wilson. She was crowned queen back in June. “I love it, it’s so much fun,” Wilson said. “It’s such an honor.”
This is her first time being crowned royalty. “I was so happy. I’ve been waiting,” she said. “I’ve been hoping for this moment for a while, because I remember last year when Aubrey Stevenson was the queen, I remember seeing her and thinking, ‘oh my gosh that seems like so much fun.’ You get to talk to so many people in the community.”
It is pretty much her main duty – to talk to people in attendance. “I’ve been walking around,” she continued. “They gave me things to hand out, stickers and things. I walk around and talk to some people and ask them how their day is. Just get to know a lot of people.”
She summarized what many people in attendance were thinking, “It’s really fun.”