PERRY -- Garret Hurst, 9, had never been to a fair before he and his family traveled about 85 miles from Sasser in southwest Georgia to the Georgia National Fair on Sunday.
“I’ve heard there’s a lot of fun stuff here, like the roller coasters, games and the rides,” he said.
“He’s having a lot of new experiences today,” said his mother, Darla Hurst.
The Hursts were waiting for the racing pigs show to begin.
“He said, ‘you haven’t been to a fair until you’ve been to a pig race,’” Darla Hurst, said laughing.
Robinson’s Racing Pigs have been putting on the swine races at the fair for 26 years, said Randy Ross, who owns the show with his wife, Sharon. They have a farm in Fort White, Florida, where they raise and train the pigs.
Four pigs at a time run promptly from their crates into the starting gates and are numbered. As soon as the gates are opened, the pigs scramble around the track to be the first to get the prize at the end -- an Oreo cookie. There were three races with various size pigs during one show.
“It takes two or three weeks to train a pig,” Randy Ross said. “They pick it up quickly.”
With about seven shows a day, the piggies go through about a pack of Oreo cookies a day, Sharon Ross said, “unless I get into them, then we go through two packs.”
The couple own two other pig racetracks that were at other fairs. They are on the road about nine months of the year.
“They call us the ‘pig lady’ and the ‘pig man,’” Sharon Ross said. “It don’t bother me one bit. ... We meet a lot of neat people. We’ve got friends all over the country.”
They take the month of December off and go fishing at Lake Okeechobee in Florida.
After the race, 9-year-old Adison “Bug” Burnham said the littlest pigs were her favorites. This was the second visit to the fair for her and her family, who drove up from Valdosta. But Adison had a hard time picking her favorite animal at the fair.
“I haven’t decided between the seals and the horses,” she said.
Not far from the pig race near the south gate was the Wild About Monkeys show.
Kevin and Martina Keith, a husband and wife team from Napa, California, introduced baboons Mickey, Rico and Dagney and a couple of young Capuchin monkeys to a large audience.
Kevin Keith said he has been training monkeys since 1982 and some of his animals have been used in movies, the most recent being “Get Hard” starring Will Ferrell. This is the third time they have been to the Georgia fair.
“I love training monkeys,” he said. “It’s an animal you can take anywhere.”
They are heading to Utah after this fair and then back home.
On the other end of the fairgrounds, near the north gate, was the Tricky Dogs show.
It featured Lucy, Bingo, Minnie, Teddy, Twinkie and Cricket -- all rescue animals trained by Rick Martin of Dunedin, Florida. The small dogs range in age from 1 to 17.
“This is my first show outside Florida in 20 years,” and the first time at this fair, Martin said. He does a lot of shows at schools.
“When I was a kid, I saw a dog act in a circus,” he said. “I went home and we had two pet dogs that I loved anyway and they were all for learning tricks. I learned a little act and just continued. It’s all I’ve ever done.”
Other animal shows include seals, sheep and exotic animals. The Georgia National Fair continues through Oct. 18 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223 or follow her on Twitternote>