Sunday, October 19, 2008

Racing bacon

We'd decided that the Big E was just too far to drive this year, even for hearty quantities of fried fairground food. However, Topsfield Fair was a more convenient destination, so we both took a rare day off work and went up on Friday to avoid the weekend crowds.

The food options turned out to be disappointing: we had passable corn dogs and fries with reconstituted gravy, though we did find an apple crisp with real fruit and a good cinnamon-scented buttery oatmeal topping.

But let's get real: we weren't there for the food. And while the llamas and goats and fancy show chickens and angora rabbits and Shetland ponies and falcons and ducks and Shire horses and bees were cool, we weren't there for them either.

Nor was this trip based around a desire to see the
prize-winning 1,400-pound pumpkin.

Nope. It was all about Robinson's Racing Pigs.

We were at the track 15 minutes early and picked out a good spot on the turn, so we'd have a view of both the straightaways and the central water tank. Next to us was a tiny white-haired old lady, quite giddy with excitement, who told us she came every year just to witness this event.

The crowds gathered. The moment approached. And then, sadly, my camera died. Luckily, many other people have recorded before me, so I gratefully bow to their superior battery power.

And then the theme song began.

That should give you a pretty good idea of what was coming, no?

The premise of the show was this: the barker (possibly Robinson himself, though more likely a protegee in the Dread Pirate Roberts vein) herded four pigs into the starting gate. Then he divided the audience into four groups, chose a representative from each, and assigned them a pig, which he named according to a topical pun (e.g. Lindsay LoHam and Britney SpareRibs). The groups then were to yell encouragement to their pig, with the victorious assignee winning a voucher for a free slushy.

(Worth noting: when the pigs were given political-candidate names, 90% of the crowd rooted for BaRack-of-Ribs Obama. This is Massachusetts, after all.)

The pigs, for their part, were motivated by Oreo cookies waiting at the finish line: first piggy home got to snarf all the cookie before the others arrived, like this:

And then there were the swimming races:

I felt a little guilty watching the piggies perform for the benefit of baying crowds, I must admit. But then I remembered that the previous night I'd had braised pork shoulder with collards at Highland Kitchen, so really I was in no position to pass judgement.

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Blogger KP said...

The division of cheering sections for the four participants is exactly like the set up of the jousting tournament at King Richard's Faire. The only difference was we did not get a voucher for a free slushy, but instead received the opportunity to stand in a long line to purchase another 20 oz. beer for $10. (That's only 10 tickets! It's not like it's real money.)

Unlike the pigs, we were allowed to roast and devour the losing jousters. I think that's what those big "turkey" legs were.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Dawn Eve said...

Wow, I went to the Topsfield fair every year from 7th to 12th grade and never saw the racing piggies. Of course I was too busy following boys, turning up the collar on my polo shirt, and trying to win feathered roach clips.

Last year the culinary draw was cider donuts and fresh cider near the arts and crafts building (where they have the quilt judging). The apple crisp sounds lovely.

10:47 PM  

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