In the first race Saturday, the small, pink pigs flew out of their boxes and tore around the track. Clutching a green ticket, this reporter happily watched the green-clad pig easily complete the course ahead of its competition.
The second race did not go as well, however, as the green-wearing pig caught a whiff of something on the track just after the course's one and only turn. The pig wearing yellow won that race and the pig decked in green had to be herded across the finish by Charlie Cook, owner and operator of the touring show.
"They race because they're well-trained, not because they're hungry," Cook told the crowd.
Waiting at the finish is a mixture of soft-serve ice cream and an Oreo cookie to reward the pigs for their work.
Cook, who has been racing pigs since 1986, said it takes three days for the pigs to learn how to race.
The racing career of pigs, though glamorous and exciting, is short-lived. Racers must be between 50 and 75 pounds to fit into the starting boxes. Since pigs gain about a pound a day, their racing days don't last longer than a month and a half, Cook said.
For Cook, the pig-racing circuit is the ideal job. Having been a hog farmer most of his life, Cook enjoys the self-employment and travel the racing pigs provide him.
Cook's Racing Pigs, hired as entertainment, have performed throughout California and Arizona. They've traveled as far away as Washington state and Louisiana.
"They're cute, funny little animals. It's something you can't see every day," Cook said.
The spectators seemed to agree.
Bill Browning of Imperial has seen pig races before but continues to make them part of his fair experience.
"They're fun to watch, even if you see them every year," Browning said.
Staff writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.