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When (racing) pigs fly: Livestock steals the show at the Spokane Fair on Sunday

Sept. 11, 2022 Updated Sun., Sept. 11, 2022 at 9:47 p.m.

The wildfire smoke was thick in the air on Sunday, but that didn’t stop the crowds of people from enjoying the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs competition at the Spokane County Interstate Fair.

The all-ages crowd packed in tightly on the fairground’s north lawn to watch the pigs compete around a track throughout the day. At 2 p.m., the starting gates shot open and four 3-month-old pigs darted out, leaping over a barrier and around a corner until reaching the finish line. The crowd cheered after a piglet named Sloppy Joe won the 2 p.m. race.

The pig racing began 35 years ago in Fairbanks, Alaska, as a way to help maintain the “Gloucestershire old spots,” a large pig breed that fell out of favor in the U.S. because of their size and because they require such a large space, said Ben Osorio, the pig race announcer. The pigs were nearly extinct as a result, said Osorio, who has been traveling with the porcine party since July.

The All-Alaskan Racing Pigs partner with the Livestock Conservancy to help raise awareness about the pigs and to help grow their numbers.

“On the whole, our goal is to find breeders,” Osorio said.

Besides seeing all the smiles in the audience, Osorio said his favorite part of his job is the pigs themselves.

“They all have their own little personalities. They’re like dogs,” he said. “Sweetpea, she’s a little scrapper. She’s the sweetest thing though.”

“This guy, he’s a total diva,” Osorio said, pointing to a small pig named “Bob.”

The All-Alaskan Racing Pigs will be at the fair through Sept. 18.

Farmers take the stage

At the Youth Market Stock Auction, kids and teens herded lambs in front of an audience of prospective buyers as an auctioneer called out bids. Chase Duckin, 8, said “it’s hard work” to feed and take care of the animals each day. He and his mother, Lindsay Duckin, both of Sandpoint, brought a lamb, Pepper, and a steer, Mickadee, to the fair this year.

Mickadee didn’t sell for as much as they wanted him to, Lindsay Duckin said. Ranching has been difficult this year as prices for farm supplies have increased.

“Gas is out of this world. The farmers have to raise prices,” she said. “Everything is so expensive now. The hay has doubled.”

Still, Lindsay, who is a farmer herself, hopes to see her family continue the tradition for generations to come, she said.

At the fair this week

The Spokane County Interstate Fair will bring three musical acts to the Grandstand Arena this week, starting with country music artist Cole Swindell at 7 p.m. on Monday, followed by country and blues singer Elle King at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and hip-hop artist Nelly at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

The Pacific Pro Pulling Series will bring a truck/tr actor pull to the Grandstand Arena on Friday, followed by a demo derby on Saturday. The fair ends on Sunday.

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