Pig racing steals show at state fair
• Photo gallery: 50th State Fair
By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
In the end, there can be only one winner, and yesterday that winner was a pint-sized porker named Britney Squeals.
On the opening weekend of the 50th State Fair at Aloha Stadium, hundreds eschewed the sundry offerings of rides, games and funnel cakes to take in what has become one of the fair's most popular attractions: pig racing.
Squeals, a crowd favorite, took an early lead out of the gate and held off a late charge by rising star Hammah Montana to earn the win in the first race of the afternoon. Swillery Rodham Clinton finished third, followed by the mercurial Lindsay Loham.
In other races, Arnold Snoutsenhogger won by a snout over hard-charging Lance Hamstring and sawdust-chompers Jean Claude Van Ham and El Puerco Swifto, and Redneck Racers legend Jack Hogworthy beat a seniors field of Bill Spamball, Ham Salad and Larry the Bacon Guy.
"E.K. Fernandez fairs are really family events," said Marcie "The Pig Lady" Campbell, who announced the races. "This is so much more personal than other races we've been to. It's that aloha attitude. People here are just so nice and friendly."
Campbell and her husband Rick (alternately known as the Pig Whisperer) are one of three teams from Kansas-based Hedrick's Promotions who are overseeing the pig races this year.
Campbell watched with a broad smile as the crowd cheered their favorite pigs.
"We try to involve everybody, from kids to older people" she said. "Everybody likes pigs."
Rick Campbell trains the pigs, which are flown to Hawai'i about two weeks in advance.
Marcie Campbell said the task is fairly simple.
"Pigs like to run, they like to eat, and they like to sleep," she said. "We show them where to run, then we feed them and then they go to sleep. After they do that a few times, they realize it's a pretty easy life."
In a nearby corral, hundreds of other carnival-goers took in a wow-inducing performance by Ma'Ceo, an international performance troupe that performs acrobatic feats while straddling, crouching and even standing on galloping horses.
Other attractions include hypnotist Dr. Scott Lewis, a backyard circus (featuring life-size puppets), a canine dock-jumping competition, and appearances by Spider-Man and Iron Man.
Still, not everyone was impressed with this year's offerings.
Vincent Foytich, 52, of Kāhala said he was a bit disappointed that there wasn't a greater variety of entertainment options. Undaunted, he and fellow carnival enthusiast Yolaman Aguiar, 53, spent their first hours at the fair regaining their stuffed-animal-winning form.
"(Aguiar) has a room full of stuffed animals," Foytich explained. "We always bring extra bags to take home the animals we win. We're just kids at heart."
Two hours into their visit, Foytich and Aguiar were still trying to find the most effective way to knock three plastic cups off a platform using a dart gun loaded with a whiffle ball.
"It's called Gun Ball but pretty soon we're going to have to call it Lose Money Ball," Foytich quipped.
Like many carnival-goers, Derrick and Ruby Nusca of Waipahu set out with a simple gameplan: eat, ride, play.
The Nuscas and their children — Xavier, 9; Xynah, 7; and Xander, 2 — purchased $10 wristbands at a Ticketmaster location, which afforded them unlimited rides during a two-hour block.
Ruby Nusca recalled her own childhood visits to the fair.
"I liked all the scary rides," she said. "I still do."