(Havre Daily News reporter John Paul Schmidt involved himself in participatory journalism Wednesday night. He organized a Havre Daily News team to take part in the annual pig wrestling contest, bamboozling co-workers, friends and relatives to join him. Here is his report on his activities.)
The pig-wrestling competition kicked off the Great Northern Fair Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Bigger Better Barn.
The mud pit was in a far corner of the barn and the event saw a larger turnout than it did last year. The stands were fairly full of spectators who came to watch their friends, family and strangers chase pigs around mud and attempt to lift it and put it in a barrel rear-first.
The peewee division was first to compete and many of them rocked the clock by getting their young pigs into the small container in the middle of the pit.
The winning team of the peewee division was The Wild Bunch, made up of Ryder and Renzey Raymond, Aaron McCaffree and Faith Jones. The Wild Bunch got their pig into the barrel in 35.53 seconds.
Next came the intermediate division, where the pigs got older and a little bigger than those the peewee division faced.
The winning team of the intermediate division was Ham Slam, made up of Loni and Loy Waid, Sydney O'Neil and Olivia Bischoff. They were able to get their pig in the barrel with hardly any problem in an impressive 7.10 seconds.
Then came the turn of the Havre Daily News' team, The Razorback Wranglers, who were first to compete in the adult men's and women's divisions. A team comprised of yours truly, your humble writer, Captain John Paul Schmidt; my brother, David Alexandre Schmidt, also known as "Blade"; Patrick "Slaughterhouse" Leeds, son of Havre Daily News Senior Reporter Tim Leeds; and Havre Daily News Advertising Consultant Extraordinaire Shari Nelson, were first into the pen and were first to hear the dull thuds of the biggest division of pig to come out for the adult divisions.
"Big Betty," as the pig shall now be immortalized, was pushed into the ring and doused with a bucket of mud to make it more difficult for the Razorback Wranglers to catch her.
"On your mark. Get ready," flagman Lon Waid yelled out as we all took our stances, ready to confidently and swiftly barrel Big Betty in 30 seconds tops. At least two our team members had done a couple of push-ups earlier in the week, and there was no doubt in my mind we would take gold.
I was first to Big Betty and as I tackled her, she slipped immediately through my arms and the realization that all my boasting and smack talk was for naught swept over me.
The next 60 seconds involved myself sliding uselessly into walls as the Razorback Wranglers attempted to stop the pig from running away, much less lifting it into a barrel.
All the while eating humble mud pie, we finally caught the pig - or it let us catch it - and struggled to lift it up high enough to clear the side of the barrel. I used all the strength I had acquired through lifting (books) to raise Big Betty with my teammates.
The buzzer sounded and we put the champion of the match back down on the ground to run out of the arena. We were unqualified.
The Bacon Biters - Lacey Waid, Tatiana Ralph, Neya Bischoff and Peyton Filius - won the women's adult division in 10.46 seconds.
The Montana Hog Hunters - John Sienkowski, Bryan Almas, Kenny Holt and Travis Martin - took first in the men's division. They got their pig in the barrel in 28.15 seconds.
The Razorback Wranglers will come back next year for the grudge match. Please cue the "Rocky"-esque montage of the Havre Daily News team training.