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High on the Hog with Pigs at Fair

(Valparaiso, IN) - Judging by the laughter from the crowd, pigs doing tricks had Porter County fairgoers Sunday living high on the hog.


Xavier Emmons, 7, of Cedar Lake, was allowed into the show arena to help sing the popular nursery rhyme “Old McDonald Had a Farm.”


A pig next to him loudly grunted when it was time for the porker to sing the “oink, oink” portion of the song.


“I liked it,” Emmons said.


“He loves pigs. That’s why he wanted to come out,” said his father, Josh Emmons.


“Cousin Grumpy’s Pork Chop Revue” is a 20-minute show presented several times a day near the free entertainment tent at the fair, which runs through Saturday.


The show features tricks ranging from a pig pushing a baby stroller containing a baby pig and a pig walking through a tunnel. There were also goats walking a narrow platform five feet above the ground.


Beverly McCann of Chesterton said a llama jumping high through a hoop is what she liked best. She was there with her husband, Eric, their children, Amelia and Emma, ages five and one. They had their pictures taken with the animals following the 1:30 P.M. show. 


“We thought it was great. The kids loved it. It was cute,” McCann said.


The ringmaster is Les Kimes, who took over for his father, Boyd, who started the traveling show in 1956. His father made such a name that he occasionally appeared with his trained animals on late-night television shows like The Tonight Show and the Ed Sullivan Show. Then, when he was two, Kimes became part of the show, then at 14, took over when his father passed away.


He also found fame with performances on television shows like Animal Planet and America’s Got Talent, where he advanced to the quarter-finals. Kimes, 56, said he mostly travels to fairs and festivals but sometimes theme parks, circuses, boats, recreational vehicles, and pet shows.


He’s been to every state except for Alaska. 


“Our motto has always been no matter what the gig, think pig,” he said.


During his spare time, he and his wife, Nina, live near Tampa, Florida, where they have a hobby farm for their dozen or so animals. Kimes said the animals are kept in a climate-controlled environment when they all hit the road together.


“These guys are our family. We adopt them. They stay with us their entire lives,” he said.

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