This factual and fun-filled travelogue features cool and amazing places, historical sites, landmarks and particularly-important-to-pig-people events across 23 states in U.S. “pigdom.” Enjoy the trip.
Grundy Center, IA — Birthplace of National Hog Farmer; founded by C.R. Mitchell and Ralph Anderson, the first edition was an eight-page newsletter published by the Farm Bureau Spokesman.
Austin, MN — Fans of the world-famous luncheon meat, SPAM, can now make a pilgrimage to a 16,500-sq.-ft. museum with interactive and educational games, exhibits and video presentations. Every June, Hormel Foods sponsors the SPAM Museum Jam, a community celebration that coincides with Father's Day weekend. The all-day event features games, celebrity entertainment, pork and SPAM treats (www.spam.com). Also the site of the National Barrow Show, the “World Series of Swine Shows,” held the second week of September.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN — In 1962, Webb Publishing Company purchased National Hog Farmer. The staff moved to St. Paul, MN, in 1965. In 1990, magazine headquarters were moved across the river, just a stone's throw from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Des Moines, IA — Headquarters of the National Pork Board (www.porkboard.org) and the National Pork Producers Council (www.nppc.org); home of the first American Pork Congress (1970), and the current World Pork Expo, the largest, single-commodity trade show in the world, first held in 1988.
Davenport, IA — The original home of The Machine Shed Restaurant, founded 1978, features a 20-oz. Double-Cut Iowa Pork Chop. Founder Michael Whalen has been a bold leader in making pork a main attraction for any meal. In 2004, the chain served 2.2 million people and sold 903,579 pounds of pork at their seven locations, including Appleton, WI; Des Moines, IA; Olathe, KS; Rockford, IL; Pewaukee, WI; and Lake Elmo, MN.
Moline, IL — Site of the renowned “Moline 90” meeting, which set the stage for formation of a producer-controlled checkoff program. The “emergency meeting” called by the National Pork Producers Council took place on May 25, 1966.
Kewanee, IL — Hog Days, the biggest festival in Henry County, began as a simple barbecue to commemorate the county being named the “Hog-Producing Capital of the World” in 1948 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Staged on Labor Day weekend, the festival attracts about 150,000 people.
Chicago, IL — Site of the Union Stockyards, where over a billion hogs were delivered and sold. Also the site of the International Livestock Exposition first held in 1900.
Mt. Pleasant, MI — The Embers Restaurant, home of the original one-pound pork chop, is a family-owned business founded in 1958. The Embers serves over 150,000 pounds of pork annually (www.theembersdine.com).
Tipton, IN — In 1969, Frank Larson cooked his first batch of barbecued pork chops on the courthouse lawn. With a secret sauce and a special barbecue machine, he launched the Tipton County Pork Festival, now held annually the second weekend in September.
Eaton, OH — Home of the Preble County Pork Festival, this two-day event held the third full weekend of September features fantastic pork, a parade, arts and crafts and entertainment. Preble County is also the site of the first swine testing station, established in 1946 by Swine Extension Agent Wilbur Bruner, distinguishing it as the “Home of Swine Improvement in America.”
Cincinnati, OH — Hogs were first commercially slaughtered here. By 1845, Cincinnati was the largest pork-packing city in the world, thus earning the title: “Porkopolis.” Two pork memorials are visible on the city's riverfront — bronze flying pigs, which grace the entrance to Bicentennial Commons, and the twin towers of Proctor & Gamble Co., an industry founded in 1837 on hog lard.
Chadds Ford, PA — The Brandywine River Museum is renowned for its collection of works by artist N.C. Wyeth. A museum favorite is an accurate, life-size depiction of the artist's beloved pig, Den-Den. Titled “Portrait of Pig,” Wyeth claimed Den-Den ate 17 tubes of paint a week during her “sitting,” leaving rainbow droppings all over the farm.
Manhattan Island, NY — A long, solid wall was constructed on the northern edge of New Amsterdam Colony to control roaming herds of hogs, thus affording Wall Street its name.
New York, NY — Pig Heaven, a Chinese Restaurant on New York's Upper East Side (1540 Second Ave.), received rave reviews from Gourmet magazine: “With all of its kooky anomalies (bales of hay stacked on mud-brown floors, pink walls, tables covered with butcher's paper), Pig Heaven is the most laid back of the city's better restaurants.” Pork is the restaurant's specialty, prepared Cantonese, Shanghainese and Szechwanese. The take-out department is appropriately called “Pig Out.”
Emporia, VA — The Virginia Pork Festival, one of the East Coast's largest food festivals, features outstanding pork dishes, live music and much more; $25 buys all you can eat and drink and all the fun you can squeeze in. Held annually the second Wednesday of June (www.vaporkfestival.com).
Surry, VA — The Pork, Peanut & Pine Festival held at the nearby Chippokes Plantation State Park commemorates the three main cash crops in Surry County. Festival-goers enjoy country, bluegrass and gospel music, arts and crafts (www.toursurryva.com/pppfestival.html).
Hog Island, VA — Hog Island, the largest of several tracts that make up the Hog Island Wildlife Management Area, acquired its name from the 17th century practice of English settlers allowing their hogs to forage at the tip of a peninsula. The 3,908-acre area features hunting, fishing and other activities.
Memphis, TN — Home of “Memphis-in-May” International Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, this three-day pork cookoff event is often called “The Super Bowl of Swine.” Over 90,000 people sample over 250 teams' mastery of pork barbecue.
Jackson, TN — “Big Bill,” a 9-ft.-long Poland China boar set an all-time hog weight record of 2,552 lb. for his owner, Buford Butler, in 1933.
Salley, SC — The Chitlin Strut, an internationally known festival, is staged annually the Saturday after Thanksgiving in this tiny town (pop. 410). Over 40,000 visitors come to celebrate one of the more unusual food items available from the pig — chitterlings. Often call “chitlins,” these fried pig intestines have been a southern tradition for over 100 years. (www.chitlinstrut.com)
Vienna, GA — Home of the “Big Pig Jig,” the southeast's largest and Georgia's oldest and official barbecue cooking contest. Founded in 1982, the three-day pork festival is held annually in October. The 2004 contest drew 120 teams that cooked over 400 entries, attracted over 20,000 finger-lickin' pork barbecue enthusiasts (www.bigpigjig.com).
Tampa Bay, FL — The first pigs on American soil are believed to have arrived on May 25, 1539, when Hernando de Soto came ashore at Charlotte Harbor carrying pigs he picked up in Cuba (left there by Christopher Columbus on an earlier voyage). Some say Mr. de Soto is truly the “Father of the American Pork Industry.”
Dothan, AL — A big iron pig serves as a distinctive landmark for tourists and those attending the town's Peanut Festival. Larry Godwin sculpted the pig using 1-in. tubing for the pig's frame and sheet metal to form the “pig skin.”
Opelousas, LA — The Pork and Chitterlings Festival is a two-day event in Bayou Chicot, featuring backbone stew, chitterlings, pig's feet, bar-b-que and other southern fare.
Pittsfield, IL — Pike County, once considered the “Pork Capitol of the World,” celebrates its pork prowess with a two-day event each year. Main attractions include free pork sandwiches, hog-calling contests, Little Miss Pigtail competition, pigskin toss and “Pig Poo” bingo (www.Pittsfield-il.org).
Lamar, MO — Birthplace of Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the United States, who uttered these profound words of wisdom: “See those hogs? No man should be allowed to be president who does not understand hogs, or hasn't been around a manure pile.”
Frederick, SD — Hog Wild Saloon, a small town bar opened by three pork industry enthusiasts. “Established as an alternative to the conventional place to relax and unwind,” notes the proprietor.
Mesa, AZ — Waldo's BBQ proudly serves pork barbeque and features lots of pork industry paraphernalia on the walls. Owned by Clay Caldwell, son of Jim Caldwell, owner of Snowflake Hog Farms, Snowflake, AZ, and a pioneer in pork production in the '70s.
Burbank, CA — Tonight Show fans and host Johnny Carson were treated to a guest appearance from “Ed,” more formally known as King David, an 840-lb. Yorkshire boar. Ed and his owner, Ron Lieske, Henderson, MN, appeared on Sept. 24, 1980.
Carmel, CA — Hog's Breath Inn, once owned by the city's most famous resident, Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood, is known for its famous hog's head post out front and the mounted hog heads inside. When you order, just say: “Make my day — bring me an order of Hog's Baby Back Ribs.” (www.hogsbreathinn.net)
Golconda, NV — Mark Coowley was so fond of his pet pig, Waterhole Ike, he sold shares in him and opened a savings account in his name. Since the bank required a social security number, Ike was assigned number 530-80-4623, becoming the first (perhaps only) pig to be issued such a number.
San Juan, WA — On June 15, 1859, the shooting of a trespassing pig is credited for establishing the boundary line between Canada and the U.S. mainland. The controversy arose when Lyman Cutter, an American settler, shot a pig belonging to an agent of the British-based Hudson Bay Company. Arguments ensued over whether the pig was on British or American soil. Cutter refused to be taken to British-held Vancouver Island for trial and the disagreement escalated, with military forces squaring off on both sides. Much political and military maneuvering followed. In 1872, with much soothing of tensions on both sides, an agreement was struck to draw an irregular boundary down through Puget Sound, giving some islands to Great Britain, some to the U.S., including sole possession of San Juan