SKOWHEGAN — According to 9-year-old Brandan Parlin of Anson, there’s no secret to bagging a pig at the annual Skowhegan State Fair pig scramble.

“You just go up and catch it,” said Parlin, smiling triumphantly after catching a pig during the annual race to catch and bag pigs Saturday. “He got out a couple times, but I caught him.”

The competitive scramble, in which children ages 6 to 11 have the opportunity to win a free pig, is often one of the most popular events at the Skowhegan State Fair, which concluded Saturday.

The fair typically draws between 80,000 and 100,000 people to Skowhegan over 10 days and has been an area tradition for 198 years.

Attendance numbers were not available Saturday for this year’s fair, but many fairgoers spoke enthusiastically about their experience even though some vendors observed that attendance for the fair seemed to be slightly down.

Chelsea Force, who used to come to the Skowhegan State Fair as a child, returned this year with her husband, Matt Force, from Providence, R.I.

“My husband had never been so I wanted to bring him,” said Force, 29. “We don’t have anything like this at home. There are festivals, but nothing with farm animals.”

On Saturday the couple was watching the pig scramble after having already watched the equestrian sport of penning.

“I really like it,” said Matt Force, who had never heard of a pig scramble before coming to the fair.

The Forces and other fairgoers Saturday seemed to be having a good time, but some workers at the fair said business hasn’t been as good as in past years — in part due to this year’s weather. After a warm start, the first weekend of the fair was cold and rainy before it got hot again.

“It was normal at night and slow during the days,” said Steve Aucoin, who owns Steve’s Concessions and has been coming to the Skowhegan State Fair for 43 years. “It’s really all weather related that determines how busy it is. This year it was really hot, then it rained, and then it was hot again.”

Greg Smith, who has been selling gambling tickets at the fair for about the last 20 years, also said ticket sales were down at this year’s fair.

“Times are changing,” he said. “The heat and humid weather doesn’t help.”

But not everyone said business was slow this year.

Tina Cwikla, of Skowhegan, who was operating a ride called Jungle Safari, was sitting under the shade of an umbrella Saturday afternoon in what she said was a rare minute of downtime.

“It’s been busy,” said Cwikla, who has worked at the fair for two years. “The best thing about this fair was the (demolition) derby last night. That’s the best thing.”

“I’ve enjoyed every bit of it,” said fairgoer Ada Stein, 75, of Monroe. “Everything was really good. I try and get here every year. It’s just a good old-fashioned fair.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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