Painting pigs

‘Pigmania’ brings out best in pig art

Area businesses get into the fun
by displaying their creations

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

For the past several years, visitors to the Madison Ribberfest have viewed with curiosity the uniquely decorate concrete pigs that adorn the walkways and lobbies of various businesses throughout town. Those pigs are part of “Pigmania,” the “serious fun” aspect of the Madison Ribberfest.

Tonia Cline

Photo by Don Ward

Tonia Cline of Andersons’ Sales & Service
poses with her “three little pigs” – painted
in the schemes of her store’s main brands,
John Deere, Stihl and Honda.

Each year, businesses either adopt a pig for $100 or buy a pig for $200 and pay $25 per year to enter the Pigmania competition. Pigs are decorated and then placed in front of businesses. While the pig-decorating contest is a lighthearted way to publicize the festival, it is also a way to raise scholarship money for local high school students interested in an agricultural-related college major.
Before the annual festival, which is scheduled for Aug. 18-19 this year, viewers can vote with money for their favorite hog by simply putting money into a container placed by the pig or at the business sponsoring the pig. Each dollar is a vote for that particular pig.
At festival time, the pigs are herded up and lined up along the riverfront downtown. Voters can still vote with money, or they can use any leftover Ribberfest coupons to cast their votes. Voting for this year’s Pig of Choice will close at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Prizes will be awarded at 7 p.m., according to Pigmania chairman Kevin Watkins.
Last year, nearly 40 pigs were decorated and approximately $3,700 was raised for scholarship funds. Watkins said a few more pigs will be seen throughout town this year. He has 39 pigs entered in the contest.
He also explained there are actually two different competitions among the pigs. One is a “People’s Choice” contest in which votes are given with money. The winner of that contest gets his name on a trophy and gets to display the trophy at his business for a year. Last year, the Local Harvest Market won the People’s Choice award and raised $325 by itself in scholarship funds.
The second contest is the “Judge’s Pick.” In this particular competition, judges are randomly selected from the Ribberfest crowd to choose their favorite pig.
Last year, Uther Pigdragon, a dragon-like pig with scales and horn decorated by Jenna Watkins, took first place. Hilltop Animal Hospital sponsored that pig. In second place was Hot Sauce, owned by Binzer’s Custom Framing. Third place went to Mane Attraction’s hog, which sported a big beehive hairdo.
Any local high school senior wishing to apply for scholarship funds from Pigmania may pick up applications at his high school.
A committee of two Ribberfest officials and one representative from each of the three local high schools will select recipients from the applicants. Watkins said applicants need to submit a copy of transcripts, a recommendation for the scholarship and a short essay on qualifications.
Maridith Buchanan

Photo by Don Ward

Maridith Buchanan poses with the
headless “Hula Hog,” which suffered
an accident at MainSource Bank.

“We are not necessarily looking for the straight-A student but instead for the well-rounded person who is planning to study in an agricultural related field,” Watkins said.
Pigmania perilous work for some pig owners
Not all pigs in Pigmania survive the rigorous contest. Some are vandalized and some have even been stolen while in display at area businesses.
Cindy Griffin, customer service representative for MainSource Bank in downtown Madison, said the bank’s artistically decorated “Hula Hog” has lost his head – literally – as the result of the bank staff’s attempts to avoid repeated vandalism.
The pig sat outside and kept having its decorations stolen, so the bank staff started moving the pig in and out of the building at the close of each business day by setting the pig on a wheeled cart. But alas, the porcine creature lost its head one day when the bank’s Maridith Buchanan was pushing the cart. The head broke off at the neck, leaving the bank with a two-piece Hula Hog.
According to Griffin, the pig had what witnesses called a “seemingly slight accident” and was knocked over. No one thought the festive fellow had suffered injury until Hula’s head hit the floor. One wild theory has circulated that in actuality, the hog had suffered from heat exhaustion prior to the accident and that it is the first “heat related casualty” the town has suffered during a recent heat wave.
The poor, hapless hog is now lying in state in the bank lobby. A small funeral service for the shrouded swine has been conducted and an ode has been dedicated to the pitiable pig. Visitors may still come and vote posthumously for the beheaded boar.
At least MainSource Bank still has its headless hog. Other businesses have experienced all out theft of their concrete critters.
Andersons’ Sales & Service in the Madison hilltop had two pigs stolen one night – an event captured on the company’s video surveillance camera. But the theft occurred when the business was undergoing some construction, so the outside lights were not illuminated to better capture the illegal activities, said Andersons’ Tonia Cline.
The company had bought – rather than rented – its three little pigs because it had painted them in the company’s top three brand name products –  John Deere, Honda and Stihl. The Pigmania committee has replaced the two stolen pigs this year, and they were repainted and are now safely on display inside Andersons’ sales showroom.
“We watch these pigs pretty closely now,” Cline said. “They aren’t going anywhere.

Back to 2006 Ribberfest Articles.



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