EATON — Several local businesses and artists got into the Pork Festival spirit early this year, taking part in the second annual Oinkers for Art tradition held at Eaton’s Earlybird Farmer’s Market on Saturday, Aug. 29.
The Preble County Art Association partnered with the Preble County Pork Festival as 10 businesses designed and painted a statue of a pig to be placed along the parade route for the next three weeks.
“The goal of it is community involvement on the art side and the festival side,” said Vicky Fanberg, the executive director of the Preble County Fine Arts Center. “Last year was a great success so we did it this year and we are planning on next year, because everyone keeps being happy about painting these pigs.”
The 10 participants were hand selected to participate in the contest, each group having to submit a design to the art center. The painted pigs will be voted on at the Pork Festival using pennies to pick the favorite.
A grand champion, runner-up, and honorable mention will be crowned. All three places will receive a cash award for placing in the competition.
“Really, the big picture is just getting the community involved and making public art as well as awareness of the pork festival too,” said Fanberg.
Kelly McQueen, an owner of Opti-Vise on Main Street saw the event as a fun way to support the local art center as well as the community.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “We wanted to have a pig to sit right outside our front door. We saw everyone else’s’ pigs and we wanted one. We thought it would be just a fun way to support the community.”
Their company is a data backup solutions company, which was the inspiration for their design as they painted their pig with binary code and called it the “Data Hog.”
The Eaton Fire Department and EMS were also there, painting a pig disguised as a Dalmatian in a fire suit.
“The chief is all for the community and doing whatever we can to be involved. He thought it would be a good opportunity,” said Leann Matthews, a firefighter and paramedic (and Reid Hospital commercial starlet).
A former Eaton resident, Peggy Schuning, was commissioned by Downtown Eaton, Inc. to create a design that captured all the events in the community. She emblazoned her pig with the logo for the farmers market, and old classic car, a flower to represent Adopt-a-Pot, and a scene to showcase the White Christmas event at the courthouse.
The pig painting, Schuning joked, was a blast from the past and allowed her art career to come full circle.
“It’s been great. When I was in third or fourth grade, I remember picking up an old corn stalk when I was walking home from school and I used that for the create-a-pig contest. I feel like it’s coming to fruition,” she said. “Create-a-Pig when I was a little kid and I’m painting a pig now as an adult artist.”
Kristine VanderSchaaff and the Ott Family joined the local businesses and organizations which included Greenbriar Nursing Center, Twin Valley FFA, Eaton Fire and EMS, Essence of Wellness, Downtown Eaton, Inc., Opti-Vise, the Preble County District Library, and the Citizens to Protect Preble County Children in the event.
The pigs will be placed in front of the following businesses: Just Teasin’, Barnes Funeral Home, Murphy’s Insurance, Dale’s Recreation, Richland Interior, Habitat for Humanity, Opti-Vise, Remagan, the Eaton Library, and US Bank.
Jeremy Erskine may be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH