LITCHFIELD — Pigs have a reputation for many things, from wallowing in the mud to making friends with literate spiders, but the portly porkers will have another attribute on display at this year’s Litchfield Fair: their speed.

For the third year in a row, one of the highlights of this year’s fair will be the pig races, with bragging rights going to at least one of the children who trained them.

“The pig, if it works right, is supposed to run to their child and eat a bite of the treat,” said Karen Stinson, a member of the fair’s board of directors. “The first pig that bites the treat is the winner.”

The fair on Plains Road begins with breakfast at 7 a.m. Friday and ends with a bicycle drawing at 6 p.m. Sunday. The fair runs from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Stinson said fairgoers may notice a number of improvements this year, such as the rebuilt horse show ring and a new blacksmith shop building. Some of the improvements are less noticeable, such as new wiring and lighting and repairs to the roof at the petting zoo.

“Every Tuesday night since May, a group of directors and volunteers have been at the fair working on projects,” Stinson said. “Quite a few man-hours went into it, and a lot of volunteers helped make that happen.”

The highlights of this year’s fair include show oxen and the steer competition at 10 a.m. Friday and the Red Neck Truck Pull at 7 p.m. that night.

“That’s always a crowd pleaser,” Stinson said.

Saturday’s offerings include a 4-H horse show at 8 a.m. and a Maine Barrel Racers show at 2 p.m. There will be a youth cattle show at 10 a.m. and horse pulling beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Mutton Bustin’ — an event in which young children ride sheep — and an antique car parade, scheduled for 2 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively, help close out the fair on Sunday. The livestock fun show, in which people lead various kinds of livestock through an obstacle course, begins at 2 p.m.

The musical lineup includes Emerald Sky, No Guts No Glory and the Down East Country Music Association’s Country Show from noon to p.m. Saturday.

The midway, provided by Rockwell/Miller Amusements, opens at 3 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and  noon on Sunday.

For her money, however, Stinson thinks the pig races, which will occur at various points throughout the fair, will be a highlight. Each of the nine pigs has spent the past month being under the care of one of nine children. The youngsters, all between the ages of 6 and 12, have worked to make the pigs behave more gently and trained the animals to run as fast as they can for a treat.

The nine children were chosen because of their relationship to the fair. Three of the youngsters, for example, regularly show livestock. The winning pig will be determined by the average of the best runs for all the races. The owner of the winning pig will earn nothing but bragging rights, Stinson said.

The pigs, all about 12 weeks old and weighing about 65 pounds, will be sold at the end of the fair, Stinson said. The money will be used to buy pigs for next year.

“We’re hoping the program will pay for itself,” she said.

Stinson knows the children become attached to the pigs during the weeks of training, but she said youngsters are repeatedly told to remember the animals are livestock and not pets.

“It’s about that lesson,” she said, “to understand this is something you’re raising as a product. We’re trying to give them a concept of what livestock is and have fun with it at the same time.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
[email protected]