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Unsolved Mystery

The case of the runaway
(concrete) pig

 

 
(September 2004)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

The call came in early Friday morning, Aug. 20 – a scratchy voice crackling over the police scanner: “Calling all cars. Be on the lookout for a pink, plaid runaway concrete pig. Could be traveling – very slowly – eastbound on Third Street. Destination unknown.”
There was no terror in the dispatcher’s voice. In fact, a few giggles could be heard in the background. But this was no laughing matter. A blue ribbon in the third annual Madison Ribberfest “Pigmania” concrete pig decorating contest was at stake, not to mention a monetary contribution to the festival’s scholarship fund.
Yes, the missing pig was no poke... er, I mean joke. The stolen swine had been rented last year to Scott Lynch Realty for $100 and then painted pinkish plaid by Aimee Stovall of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in an apparent attempt at art.

Scott Lynch Pig

Photo by Don Ward

The missing Scott Lynch Realty pig
at last year’s fest.

Back in July the rented pigs were displayed at 35 businesses around town to help promote the upcoming Madison Ribberfest.
This “Pigmania,” as it is known, is chaired by Kevin Watkins, who on this fateful day had stopped by Scott Lynch Realty to pick up his pig. Watkins planned to haul them all down to the riverfront for viewing during the two-day event. But when Watkins’ “pork wagon” arrived, the Lynch pig was missing.
This piggish predicament sent Watkins inside to inquire about the missing plaid pig. But the Scott Lynch Realty staff was caught by surprise, thinking their pig was still standing outside.

Fire in the hog

Photo by Don Ward

Chip Binzer’s first place
“Fire in the Hog” pig brought a whopping
$605 at the silent auction.

They went outside only to find some skid marks and a few chips of plaid paint on the sidewalk.
And no pig.
“I was a little ticked off,” Watkins said. “It’s beyond me why somebody would do that.”
Perhaps an even more plexing question is how they would do it. These 300-pound pigs require “three large men at the very least to move one very far, unless they have a dolly,” Watkins said.
“You would have to be pretty ambitious to move that thing,” Pat Lynch added.
Lynch said he at first suspected that Pigmania pig-painting rival Chip Binzer of Binzer’s Custom Framing might have had something to do with the theft as a way of ensuring his second blue ribbon in as many years. But Binzer, despite later claiming the first-place prize yet again this year, vowed his innocence. Nevertheless, he was reportedly heard muttering over a recent framing job, “We don’t need no stinking plaid pigs around here.”
Watkins called the Madison Police Department to report the “pig-napping” in hopes it could be recovered before the weekend was over. A police officer soon arrived on the scene and, while doing his best to contain his laughter, filled out the report.
With no Scott Lynch Realty pig in the contest, the Pigmania contest went on as scheduled with 34 pigs displayed on the riverfront. Binzer’s “Fire in the Hog” swine earned the prized first place ribbon in the People’s Choice Award from six randomly selected judges, all from out of town. At a Saturday afternoon silent auction of 10 pigs, four were purchased by out-of-town guests. Binzer’s pig was bought by a Muncie, Ind., couple for $605, far more than any other pig sold.
“It was kinda cool,” Binzer said later. “It was like having the winning bid at the county fair, and I’ve never even been in 4-H.”
By comparison, “Barnyard Stormer,” a pig with built-in airplane wings and made by Watkins’ Hilltop Animal Clinic staff, sold for $185. Binzer had won the previous year with “Pig in Heat.”

Hilltop Animal

Photo by Don Ward

Hilltop Animal Clinic’s
“Barnyard Stormer” pig sold for $185.

“Wilbur,” a pig from “Charlotte’s Web” entered by the tourism office and made by Stovall, earned second place in the judge’s voting. Third place went to the “Paddle Pig,” which was dressed up to look like a steamboat and entered by The Wharf restaurant.
In all, this year’s Pigmania earned more than $4,300 in combined pig adoption fees, voting and the silent auction, Watkins said. Most of the money is to be used for agricultural-related scholarships to a 2005 graduating high school senior.
Each year, the businesses either adopt a pig for $100 or buy their pig for $200 and pay $25 per year to enter the contest. Watkins said the popularity of the event may lead to an increased field next year by expanding to 50 pigs. Those businesses whose pigs were auctioned will receive a free pig.
As for Scott Lynch Realty, “I don’t know yet what we’ll do about that one,” Watkins said.
By now, that pink, plaid pig could be halfway to Hog Heaven.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.

 

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