Of Pigs…..

Every year, sometime in late March or early April, the town of Winnfield LA breaks out in pigs. Life sized concrete pigs. Painted life sized concrete pigs at that. I drive through the small town of Winnfield once a week on my travels hither and yon. For the first several years that I witnessed this spring pig infestation, I found it inexplicable. The pigs were painted in fanciful fashions. Here a pig in a superman suit (a sign proclaiming it “Super Pig” nearby, there a white, glittery pig with huge gauzy wings (“Pigasus”) over yonder a pig with dark bangs and big round glasses (“Hoggy Porker”).
There seemed to be no reason for it. The high school ball team was the “BearCats” according to the sign out front. No pigs there. There was a big banner for the “Forest Festival” but the pigs stayed around for months and the banner was only up for a week or so. I wasn’t sure they were connected. Once I met a guy that worked around that area some. I asked him about the pigs. He wasn’t sure, but he thought there was a pork processing plant about 10 miles from there. That did not sound like much of a reason for painting concrete pigs. Once I asked a lady who was working in a convenience store there, but she had just moved to the area and thought it was as strange as I did.
Finally, after 3 years, I stopped and started taking pictures of the pigs on my way home one day. There turned out to be even more of them than I had ever noticed. On a side street I found one, painted in a psychedelic manner, standing in front of a shop called “The Pea Patch”. Good smells were emanating from the interior, so inside I went. It was a cross between some sort of boutique, a flea market and a down home restaurant. The menu was written on a chalk board. The proprietress said that was so it could be tailored to what she felt like cooking.That particular day it ran heavily to beans and included pork chops. I had some white beans and corn bread. The food was excellent.
After I ate, I wondered around and bought some fluer de lis ear rings and admired the inventory while chatting with the lady owner. Seems that the pigs were part of a contest that took place during the “Hog Dog Trials”, which were a part of the “Forest Festival”. Apparently they set up a trail and stock it with hogs and run a test for the dogs, rather reminiscent of sheep dog trials, if you’ve ever seen them. “You know, we breed the best Curs in the world, don’t you?” my new friend asked. Well, no, I didn’t. I did know that by “curs” she meant Catahola Cur, which is a breed of hunting dog specifically bred to hunt wild hogs. They are smart and tough. She further informed me that after the “pig judging” at the end of the hog dog trials, the persons responsible for the creation of each entry were free to take them home. It had become customary to display them for awhile in front of sponsoring businesses. The length of time on display was left up to the individual. “Some people become real fond of ’em,” she said, “Doesn’t seem like they ever want to put them away.” I wondered how much that had to do with the probable effort involved in moving a life sized concrete pig.
On the way out of town I looked carefully for the sign about the dog trials they’d told me was there. Sure enough, there it was at the edge of town. A white sign with green letters. A little bigger than the top of a tv tray. “Home of Uncle Earl’s Hog Dog Trials” it said. And it had been there all along, if I’d only looked.

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