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Published September 03, 2010, 07:59 AM

Pig racing show in its fifth year at S.D. State Fair

HURON — Only at a State Fair can one see threemonth-old pigs sprint around a series of red pens set up like a circular race track.
With competitor names such as Gov. Arnold Snorzenhauger, Miss Hamma Montana, Miss Lindsay Loham and Dale Oinkheart Jr., it’s hard not to be intrigued.
“Are you ready for some exciting pig racing action?” owner Kevin Vogel, of Sanborn, Minn., asked the crowd. “We brought with us highly trained and highly skilled professional athletes.”

By: Melanie Brandert, The Daily Republic

HURON — Only at a State Fair can one see threemonth-old pigs sprint around a series of red pens set up like a circular race track.

With competitor names such as Gov. Arnold Snorzenhauger, Miss Hamma Montana, Miss Lindsay Loham and Dale Oinkheart Jr., it’s hard not to be intrigued.

“Are you ready for some exciting pig racing action?” owner Kevin Vogel, of Sanborn, Minn., asked the crowd. “We brought with us highly trained and highly skilled professional athletes.”

Vogel conducted three divisions — men’s, women’s and Nascar — at the races Thursday afternoon at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron. Three pigs each weighing 60 to 75 pounds competed in each division.

Vogel bought the pig racing show from a friend 18 to 20 years ago, and it’s in its fifth year at the fair. He wouldn’t reveal his training methods, but said the pigs can be trained to run in three days.

“It’s just all individual training and 20 years of fine tuning,” he said. “That’s a good age right there, because they run really fast at this size. They aren’t too hard to handle.”

Vogel brings a humorous touch to his announcing duties, calling himself the swine master. He introduced Troy Groebner, of Springfield, Minn., as his chief pig trainer.

“He also holds one of the most important and valued jobs of all in the pig racing industry — he is my hon- orary chief waste disposal technician,” Vogel said, drawing some chuckles from the crowd. “He’s even got a degree, folks — a B.S. in P.S.”

Two of the races were close as they darted toward the finish line, where an Oreo cookie awaited.

In the third one, the race was down to two pigs as Dale Oinkheart Jr. failed to get a good start out of the gate.

Janet Peck, of Huron, brought the Modern Woodmen Tiny Tot group of four children to the fair to watch the races and catch other activities as part of an education tour Thursday.

Colton Lehman, 5, of Huron said “They looked like they were running and having fun.”

Mike Ratigan, of Mitchell, brought his daughters, Natalie, 4, and Mikayla, 3, to watch the races, along with his mother, Karen, of Hayti. It was the first time Mike Ratigan had seen the pig races at the State Fair.

“The girls really like watching the pigs,” he said. “It’s a good time. … Some things you don’t usually see, anyway.”

Karen Ratigan said she had seen pig races when her children were little.

“They’re fun to watch,” she said.

Vogel’s Pig Races continue at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. today and Monday, and at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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