Cookie-Crazed Pigs Still the Favorites at Fair

If you haven't made it to the fair, you've only got four days left.

The Ventura County Fair promises something for everyone--from the usual stockpile of fuzzy animals, prize begonias and carnival rides to the stranger, but ever-popular pig races, where four of the enthusiastic little porkers huff and puff their way to the ribbon for the fair's lavish purse: an Oreo cookie.

"The people love the pig races," fair general manager Jeremy Ferris said. "They come out and cheer for their favorite pig and wave the racing silks around. It's quite an event."

Whether people have been drawn by the scampering swine or the old fair staples of rides, entertainment and displays, attendance at the halfway point was up from about 125,000 last year to 142,000 this year, fair spokeswoman Teri Raley said.

She said a possible reason for the upswing may be that fair-goers are slowly but surely becoming accustomed to attending the fair in the summer instead of the fall. Until 1986, the fair was held in October.

Some remaining fair attractions include the Flying U Rodeo at 8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday; a Junior Livestock Auction throughout Friday; a draft, carriage and Frisian horse show from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; the 10th annual Ventura County Fair Chili Cook-Off at 3:15 p.m. Saturday; the Great Lemon Pie Grand Bake-Off at 1 p.m. Saturday, and the Desert Rose Band opening for the Oak Ridge Boys at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Some of the more offbeat activities slated to close out the fair include the pig races at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. today and Friday in a special arena just past Uncle Leo's Barnyard; a hog-calling contest at 7 tonight; a paper airplane toss at 3 p.m. Saturday and a banana-eating contest at 4 p.m. Sunday.

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