The ins and outs of pig wrestling . . . in Egyptian costume

My Mom’s side of the family represents a whole blogging can of worms I have barely even touched yet. I briefly talked about Big Jake and his generous shipments of food over the years, but there is so much more. Stories of a parachuting Santa Claus in Puerto Vallarta, mannequins taking over the living room, my grandmother Mama Kitty wearing lingerie in the snow, playing dress up with Mama Kitty’s hundreds of evening gowns and hats . . . you probably wouldn’t even believe most of it.

And that’s where the photographic evidence comes into play.

Today the topic is pig wrestling. In costume. Was anyone able to guess the event from the picture at the end of my Halloween post? If so, let yourself be known so that I can laud you with glories untold.

Let’s start at the beginning:

My uncle Jeff and aunt Paula live in Wisconsin. They started a yearly festival called “Wild West Days,” which began small but has been growing from year to year into the gigantic affair it is today–there’s actually a Wild West Days committee these days. It takes place in a faux Old-West town with real buildings. There is a rodeo. Local craftspeople and vendors set up shop in various tents . . . tents which my cousins and I have been responsible for setting up and tearing down if we are available. I have personally made sure not to be available for many, many years.

Everyone goes about in costume. Groups of actors do spontaneous reenactments across the town. I was somehow caught up in the midst of one, but please don’t ask any questions. It involved weeping over a man who was playing dead, and it happened during my over-dramatic teenage years.

I have the sneaking suspicion someone may have caught this moment on film, and I can only trust that they have made the wise choice to destroy that footage.

There are kid’s games, like treasure hunts in a sandbox, toss-the-ring, throwing a ball at a china plate, etc. You can pay $20 to get your favorite enemy ‘arrested’ and briefly put into jail. Good money was put down for the incarceration of my high school science teacher. Please don’t ask how or why he came from Spain to America for a summer and ended up with my crazy and wonderful relatives–but he took it all in good stride. He also pig wrestled–photo forthcoming.

The pig wrestling takes place in a giant mud-filled circular thingamaging. The mud is nice and deep. A pig is set loose. Teams of 3 people come into the ring in turns, and try to capture the pig, lift it, and place it in the barrel at the center of the ring. The team with the best time wins.  A new pig is released for each team so that no one pig gets overly tired. Oh, and when cornered, the pigs get scared and pee in the mud, right in front of you–into the very same mud you will shortly be wallowing in as you launch your body at the animal and fail to connect with any part of its pink and slippery hide.

How anyone thought 3 skinny girls could wrestle a hog down, much less lift the dang thing high enough to get it into a barrel, is beyond me.

Each team has a theme, and costumes to go with it. It was the summer of 2000. Our theme was Egyptian gods–we were Porkus, Hogsiris, and Cleopigtra.

Erica is in the middle in the golden headdress. I am on the right. Some poor girl that was conned into being our 3rd team member is on the left. We started by parading around the ring in character.

We wore long gauzy fabric over white WalMart body suits. This was our first mistake. Have you ever tried to run in gauzy fabric that is weighted down in mud? We were about to discover that it is, in fact, physically impossible.

We entered the ring. It was very squishy underfoot.

Someone shouted ‘go’ or maybe shot off a gun. And we started our heinously muddy mission.

At one point, I body-launched myself toward that pig.

I missed.

I don’t remember what the time limit was, but soon it was over. We had failed to even make a decent grab at the pig.

At least the copious mud was proof of our valiant efforts.

My cousins Will, George, and Jacob got the pig into the barrel in about 4 minutes.

They were smart, and were unhampered by their short-skirted costumes.

I think they were the first team to even get that thing in the thing, and ended the competition with an honorable 4th place.

My high school teacher’s pants became so mudlogged that the crotch of the pants was down to his knees.

There he is, on the right, looking . . . very dirty. Many politically incorrect ‘dirty Spaniard’ jokes were made by my fun-loving but uncouth family members.

Seriously, take a good long look at those pants. It’s really quite amazing they didn’t just fall off him.

My cousin Eleanor was also hampered by her team’s choice of costume–black sweatpants.

Thankfully there is high-strength hose nearby to power-spray you and get the worst of the mud off.

My next Wild West Days was in 2003. This time, I chose to spectate and watch others pig wrestle.

Such as my mother (in the middle), who pig wrestled on a team with her two sisters.

There’s my Mom, otherwise known as “Twink the Pink,” almost completely submerged in mud. I see the pig’s snout, but the whereabouts of its body are strangely confusing. It’s a big brown mess in there.

Thankfully they got squeaky clean in this tub as soon as they were done. My family places a high value on cleanliness.


It’s been 10 years and 3 months since I last pig wrestled, to be exact. And I have never been so grateful not to be plastered in  mud.

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37 Responses to The ins and outs of pig wrestling . . . in Egyptian costume

  1. Wendy says:

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! What a way to begin the morning! The story was even better than my imagination!

    • Twinky says:

      If this is what WE 3 Sisters can do together, Jenna, just imagine what YOU 3 Sisters will do some day!!! By the way, there are now more permanent buildings at WWDays so I don’t think they have to set up the old tents like when you were kids. You’ll have to come back and check it all out…. you know, do a blog update–all in true journalistic fashion!!! Hahahahaha!

      • Twinky says:

        OH! and if anyone wants to check out Wild West Days for real for themselves, come to Viroqua, Wisconsin (west central WI) the 3rd weekend of August (I believe).

      • Wendy says:

        It is a lofty aspiration for you 3, Jenna. :)

  2. That looks like more fun than I care to admit.

  3. Carrie says:

    Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Haw!!!!! This looks like a good time to me! When I was a kid, my uncle owned/ran a hog farm, which inspired my desire at that age (about 3rd to 5th grade) to be a pig farmer. Did you know this? I LOVE pigs, and even had a small collection of pig paraphernalia, though I think I’ve only held on to one stuffed creature, whose name is Russ (Rusty). So, I got to spend a few weekends at my aunt’s/uncle’s house – luckily I had a cousin there, only six months older than I – just to do pig stuff. Like feed the mommas and catch their wee piglets by their back legs. Yes. Good times, indeed. I’ll never forget the horror I experienced when my uncle showed me his sow tooth. Wowza. Have you seen one of those??? Let me just say, you don’t want to be caught in a dark alley late at night with a momma pig.

    I definitely want to check out this festival some time! I’ll finally get to live out my Bonanza dreams!!!

    • Jenna says:

      I had no idea you wanted to be a pig farmer! That’s hilarious. And I can’t say I’ve ever seen a sow tooth . . . sounds scary. We should all go to Wild West Days together next year . . . or something. =)

  4. Tina Marie says:

    SUCH a great story and the photos are priceless! I have not heard “can of worms” paired with family since I left Pennsylvania. hahaha

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks Tina Marie! My extended family is a crazy combination of ranching and opera-going, chaps and evening gowns, mud and sequins. I’m looking forward to sharing more about them. =)

  5. Circe says:

    This is a hilarious post, I love the idea of pig wrestling, though I don’t think I would try it.

  6. skippymom says:

    Holy wow – that is a big darn pig. I was thinking something “Wilbur” size – how the heck.

    Oh, no need – the pics’ speak for themselves and are precious. Love the costumes and the fun.

  7. skippymom says:

    PS – and just for pig wrestling you are officially on my blog roll. Thank you so much for visiting me so I could find you. :)

  8. Khadra says:

    Your family sounds like a lot of fun. My family watch golf and baseball. And excuse me if you are a fan of these things, but Im pretty sure these sports are televised so that old men get their beauty sleep in.

    • Jenna says:

      Heh heh, no, I’m not a big sports person . . . except for the Olympics, which I love watching. And personally, golf on TV does seem like a recipe for sleep. =)

  9. Vicki DeArmeyv says:

    This is the grossest blog you have put up to date, ugh!!!
    Looks like you had great fun though.

  10. Amber says:

    This is hilarious. Probably the best thing I’ve heard all day. I think my husband would love to attend the Wild West Days…if only we lived in Wisconsin. : ) I’m sure he’d put up a good fight against that pig.

    Those dresses were pretty much amazing. The question is, did you even touch the pig? Because if you did, you managed an incredible feat against that ginormous pig in that frilly costume.

  11. Katerina says:

    I can see you had one heck of a time there. I love these resurections of the past. Thanks for stopping by my blog, you gave me the chance to meet you.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Jenna- send me your email. I have gotten a few emails answering some of my questions about the lodge from Lindy the prize coordinator. I will forward to you. My email is I wanted to know the address and co firm dates so my friend Ann could get her ticket from PA.

  13. HAHA! What a great blog, it brought a ginat smile to my face as i watched everyone covered with mud!!! I do hope you try the peanut butter brownies, you better double the recipe, haha!

  14. Sarah says:

    oh my goodness. this is hilarious!!!! so funny to read about, i’d love to see it in person. you’ve got quite the family. :)

  15. Kay Heritage says:

    All I can say is that you have an amazingly fun family!!! :)

  16. Eleanor says:

    What you did not get on film was that I did loose those pants in the last grab. It turned around to a cool breeze on my back side and thunderous laughter, since I wore cotton rose underwear. Mama Kitty laughed so hard she fell off the bleacher and I never had to worry about the dream where you go to school naked again

  17. What an interesting post!!! I’m just about to start my workday and in the midst of all the food blog readings… I see something absolutely AMUSING like this!! Thank you so much for sharing, hehe.

  18. Julie M. says:

    That sounds very Wisconsin. lol I grew up there and remember a few events like that myself. A very enjoyable read.

  19. Reeni says:

    This is so funny! You are so brave! And you all manage to still look pretty covered in mud!

  20. Kat says:

    I was really confused about the Egyptian bit until I saw the costumes and had a (?) moment.

    LOVE IT.

    That’s absolutely hysterical.

  21. Jen says:

    Did you know it can be dangerous to eat cereal and read your blog?

  22. Pig wrestling…I didn’t know you can really wrestle with pigs. I am not sure I would like to join the wrestling, but it’s so FUN to watch!@

  23. I’m the “Science Teacher from Spain” alson knwon as “The Dirty Spaniard”… this was the best summer ever (just until today…) thank you Jenna and all the rest, you are still my best student ever and one friend I will always remember with love

    • Jenna says:

      Hola José! No me creo que ese verano fue hace ya diez años. . . Y nosotros también siempre nos acordaremos de ti con cariño! Ya sabes que si estás pasando por Chicago alguna vez, tienes un sitio donde quedarte. =)

  24. Henry says:

    A few corrections: the picture you have of the “buck-skins” team is George, Jacob and Charles (not Will, though he was on a similar team at least once). Also, if memory serves, their times were always under a minute. Finally, you also forgot the hose water was kept at a refreshing “liquid ice” temperature.

  25. Jenna! This is Kate. My experience with mud wrestling at Wild West Days is of course eerily similar to yours. I love it, I try to make sure I am not anywhere near Wisconsin during the backbreaking 26 hour days of the set up- don’t let them fool you, it is still brutal and involves lots of setting up, I was just caught there recently- and I also pig wrestled, probably the year before you did. I was the unfortunate girl who got pulled into the experience, by Emily of course. We did Swine Lake. I was the Black Swine. A GREAT deal of Walmart Tulle was involved. I learned the same lesson you did, but sadly was not there to share it with you. The fabric that doth make for a fantastic photo shoot doth not make for fantastic mud wrestling. Oh no. Quite the reverse. Also, the heavier the fabric is the more it leaves your body. At least you had a bodysuit. I will never mud wrestle in tulle again. You looked fantastic though. And you guys stayed so clean! We were mud from head to toe. Didn’t catch the hog, either. Can’t wait till your vacation is over!

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