The Redcliffe fair was a big event taking up several football field sized fields over three days, but I went there purely for the pig racing. The pig racing was much smaller than I expected but just as much fun.
As I arrived, seven little piglets grazed noisily, noses buried in the straw and the damp grass of the large square pen.
Each was probably chosen for their markings. They were white, grey, brown, and black, most with speckles and spots. To make sure we knew who was who, (and presumably avoid questions like “Did you mean the brown pig with grey spots or the grey pig with black spots?”) they were also wearing glittery pig jackets in bright colours like aqua, emerald, and pink.
Before the race started, children in the crowd gave them names like Crackle, Rumplepigskin, and BLT Special. Families bought tickets and the seven winners were chosen to take part and assigned a coloured pig.
I didn’t have a ticket, but I liked the green one because it looked lean enough to run the fastest.
The pigs were less than a foot high and looked too little to race, but perhaps because it was the last race of the day, when the sound of a racing bugle split the air, they were at the starting gate lightning fast. I wondered what was in the tub at the end that was so appealing.
Finally with as much fanfare as possible, and a loud countdown, the door was open and the race began. The pigs raced through the obstacle course of tyres and hay bales on my side, pushed open the gate and ran along the back lane. Another gate on the third side led to a last run, then back into the pen.
The green pig was first back to the main pen, but he snuffled around the stacked hay bales while several other pigs made the finishing climb to the food tub and began to inhale the food they found there. The red pig was declared the winner. I wondered if the fat little red pig was more motivated by food than the lean green pig.
While the owner of the winning ticket went up to collect their prize, I watched the piglets as they went back to grazing. They still looked hungry.
When I finally tore myself away from the piglets, I found much more to enjoy. The Redcliffe fair was busy, even on a cool winter Friday. There were scores of rides from the death defying mechanical arm with the high pitched siren, to the more sedate kiddy rides.
There were all the usual shooting games, and catch the duck games, and at least six neon show booths selling shiny bags filled with every kind of plastic toy and candy bar. I watched motorbikes, stock cars, and two men with chain saws compete to cut through large wooden logs, and I also I spent a lot of time in the craft, food, and gardening booths taking photos.
Here are some of my favourite.
There were funky hat cakes
and freaky skull cakes. Um yes.... I think you can eat this
and ugly (but prize-winningly large) ginger tubers.
I bought fudge, honey, a pumpkin peeler, and more fudge, but the best thing I went home with might have been the New Zealand potatoes.
I was admiring some large purple prize winning tubers in the gardening section. They looked like knobbly stones and came in odd shapes like kidney, and almost triangle. When the owner told me they were from New Zealand, I was dumbfounded. I am from New Zealand and have never seen them.