By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Special to Dixon Patch
It’s time to get the hogs into “four-squeal drive” and “hamward bound.”
That’s what will happen at the Dixon May Fair’s 10th annual Hogcalling Contest, to begin at 2:30 p.m., Friday, May 11 in the Swine Pavilion on the fairgrounds at 655 S. First St., Dixon.
The popular contest, sponsored by Friends of Dixon May Fair, involves a microphone, two hogs and a hogcaller, said emcee Donnie Huffman of Vacaville, president of the Friends of the Dixon May Fair and a former 4-H swine leader. “We expect to hear a lot of oinking and squealing—and that’s just from the contestants who want to be the champion hogcallers,” he said.
The hogs, raised by 4-H’ers “are top-notch athletes who don’t pull any hamstrings,” Huffman said. “We have veteran hogcallers who know how to bring home the bacon and novices as young as three who seem like they’ve been calling hogs for years.”
Contestants, or “swinemasters,” have one minute to coax the hogs to them. Sign-ups--first-come, first-serve--will take place at 2 p.m. at the Swine Pavilion. There is no entry fee.
“They can’t entice them with food,” Huffman said. “They must use their voice.” The event is judged on creativity, originality, audience response and hog response. Age groups are 3-5: 6-13, 14-17 (or still in high school) and adults, 18 and over. Registration will begin at 2 p.m. There is no entry fee, in the first-come, first-served competition.
Judges are Mary Harris of Vacaville and Hendrick Crowell of Fairfield, both members and past presidents of the Dixon May Fair Board of Directors; Richard Byrum, vice president of Butler Amusements and former Michigan State FFA president; and JoAn Giannoni of Dixon, secretary of Friends of Dixon May Fair. Richard Persons, CEO of the Lake County Fair and the interim CEO of the Dixon May Fair, is expected to be either a celebrity judge or show the crowd how hogcalling is done.
Prizes will be awarded to the winners. The upper age groups will receive concert tickets and the two younger age groups, carnival tickets to the Butler Amusements rides.
“Boss Hog” Nick Stacey of Dixon has won the adult division for a total of six years with a unique series of “oinks” and “soo-eeys.”
The hogcalling winners who brought home the bacon last year:
5 and Under:
1st, Valerie Vieira, 3, Dixon; 2nd, Xander Willoughby, 3, Vacaville; and 3rd, Easton Silva, 5, Dixon
6 through 13:
1st, Parker Franceschi, 6, Winters; 2nd, Riley Currey, 11, Dixon; 3rd, Dale Bors, 11, Dixon; and 4th, the team of Lindsay Tryba, 12; Audrey Hennigan, 12, Dixon and Lindsay's cousin, Reilly O’Donnell,13, Riverside, Ill.
14 through 17 (or in high school)
1st, Barry Coy, 15, Vacaville who teamed with Clare Crone, 16, Vacaville; 2nd, team of Zebulon Ivie, 16, Vacaville and Gino Ventinilla, 17, Vacaville; 3rd, Kenny Spencer, 16, Vacaville; and 4th, Jestine Pinon, 17, Dixon
Adults, 18 and over:
1st, Nick Stacey, Dixon; 2nd, James Bounds Jr., Dixon; 3rd, Eric Jeannot, Dixon; and 4th, Silvia Forcier, Dixon
Hogcalling over the past decade has ranged from snorting, oinking and flopping down in the sawdust (to get their attention) to plaintive calls of "Soo-eey" and "Here, piggy, piggy," and “Here, Bacon Bits." Youths have also created pig poetry and pig songs.
Among the traditional contestants will be members of the Dixon May Fair Royalty Court competition (all royalty court competitors are equestrians but the youths also know how to call a hog).
The hogcalling committee includes Donnie Huffman, JoAn Giannoni, Kathy Keatley Garvey and Marilyn Sexton. The 137th annual Dixon May Fair opens Thursday, May 10 and ends on Mother’s Day, May 13. More information is available on the website at www.dixonmayfair.com