This little piggy went to the races

Published 11:13 am Friday, August 5, 2011

Pigs race around a track Wednesday afternoon as part of the Swifty Swine Swimming and Racing Pig Show at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. The pigs would race around the track to win an Oreo cookie. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

ALBERT LEA — Squeals of glee and laughter are erupting from one new show at the Freeborn County Fair this week that’s entertaining both young and old alike.

Set up on what’s called the Porkchop International Speedway, four small pigs are racing around a track for a chance to win not cash — but an Oreo cookie waiting for them on a silver platter.

Swifty the pig climbs out of a 9-foot tank of water Wednesday afternoon after his part of the show at the Freeborn County Fair. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Swinemaster Libero Kinnear, who has been conducting the Swifty Swine Swimming & Racing Pigs show for four or five years, introduces the pigs — who are given pig-related names, such as Kevin “Bacon,” Brad “Pig,” Robert “Pattinswine” and Justin “Be-boar — and then within a few seconds, a gate is lifted and the pigs begin to sprint around the track.

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With each race, Kinnear calls on support from the crowd, with one person specifically to cheer on each pig.

The person who cheered on the winning pig in each race is awarded a plastic pig snout and his or her own package of Oreo cookies.

“I really liked it,” said 13-year-old Betsy Wagner of Albert Lea, who cheered on a winning pig Wednesday. “It’s really fun for the kids, and I liked how the kids have multiple chances to win a prize.”

In between the pig races, a 7-week-old pig named Swifty jumps into a 9-foot-long tank of water and swims across. After a little coaxing, Swifty leaps off one of the sides of the tank and then quickly swims to the other side.

Seven-year-old Mason Buendorf said he, too, thought the show was fun and noted that he had never seen anything like it before.

Kinnear said he’s been conducting the pig racing shows for four or five years, but has been training other animals long before that. He said he used to train sea lions and sharks in Texas.

“The pigs are by far the most fun, the smartest animals I’ve worked with yet,” he said.

Tucked away on Machinery Hill, the shows are scheduled for five times a day beginning at noon and going every two hours until the final show at 8 p.m.

Each show includes three pig races plus a swim by Swifty.

“It’s been great,” Kinnear said. “The crowd’s been great.”

The races include several breeds of swine, including Durocs, Hampshires, Yorkshires and pot bellies.

Kinnear said when the pigs get too big, they are given to 4-H clubs.

Information about the Swifty Swine Swimming & Racing Pigs can be found at