SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Ozark Empire Fair hosted a fan-favorite event: pig racing.
Joe Hendrick has been racing his pigs for 20 years at the fair and 40 years altogether.
Hendrick’s pigs race 5 times a day, with a 2-hour break between races.
Hendrick said the pigs do not get too tired out. Instead, they are excited to get out and race as they don’t run a very long distance.
Hendrick says he is grateful for the cooler temperatures this week because it is easier on his pigs.
“We’re from Kansas. We usually don’t have quite the humidity you guys do, and it was really affecting us a lot. Like I said, we get a lot of fans, and air pigs so that really, really is what’s keeping them content. They go out and run, and they go back to the trailers, and there’s the cool and the water, and they get along good,” says Hendrik.
The pigs finished their last race of the day at 8:30 p.m., but they will be at the fair Thursday as well.
Creighton Thomas is the third generation in his family to showcase pigs at the fair.
“I’ve been here ever since I was born. Family on the other hand has been here for 45 years,” Thomas said.
Thomas had several show pigs this year, all ranging from 275 pounds to 300 pounds.
“Yeah they’re pretty show gilts but they make a nice pork chop too,” Thomas said.
Thomas gets the show pigs ready in several ways. He walks them around months prior so they get used to being walked in the showcase.
“You got 5 minutes of fame out there,” Thomas said. “If they can’t cooperate in that 5 minutes, you might as well not have came.”
The showcase starts at 8:30 a.m. Thomas gets to the fair between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. to wash the pigs, feed them, and walk them around before showtime. Thomas is packing up Thursday and preparing for the State Fair in Sedalia, which starts in 5 days.
“You just got to keep your best stuff,” Thomas said. “You have to hope to produce the next best thing.”
The Ozarks Empire Fair runs through Saturday, August 7th.