With their hands covered in lard, a group of anxious kids awaited the countdown to the start of a fan favorite event Saturday at Wilson Banner Ranch’s annual Harvest Festival.

Their task was seemingly simple, but required coordination and agility, as the kids attempted to grab the hind leg of a squirrely, greased 30-pound pig that darted back and forth in a coliseum created out of hay bales.

The less than two-minute heat was full of pig squeals, falls and laughter as the determined youngsters faced off in an effort to win the title of greased pig champion.

Beau McCall, 4, of Troy, emerged victorious after the first heat. He was able to fight through the crowd of other children and was the first to successfully hold the animal’s leg for a few seconds.

“I just tried my best,” Beau said. “I’m the champion, so I did the greatest.”

It’s an event Beau said he’d like to participate in again, but his mind quickly turned to other things.

“I’m glad that’s over because this deserves a snack,” Beau said as he rubbed his stomach and smiled.

Beau’s mother, Madison, said the Harvest Festival has become a staple for the family.

“We come every year,” she said. “He’s been looking forward to (this competition) all day long.”

In the second heat of the day, 6-year-old Junior Slickpoo emerged as the champion.

After the Lewiston kid received his “Greased Pig Champion” T-shirt, Junior proudly stood on top of a round hay bale and flexed his muscles for all to see.

But outside of the arena, Junior wasn’t ready to share his strategy, likely wanting to keep any advice to himself, so he could once again be named the champ in future years.

Kate Wilson, who runs the events at the ranch’s coliseum, said the greased pig competition is the most popular.

Each year, the Wilson family introduces new activities to the mix for the thousands of people who attend the festival on the second and third weekends of October.

New additions this year included a scavenger hunt and an apple peeling contest.

“We try to keep coming up with new things,” Wilson said.

Joe Wilson, who owns the ranch with his wife, Annetta, said the event continues to gain popularity. It’s a draw for young families who want to pick pumpkins, enjoy some apple cider, or get up close to some of the farm animals in the petting zoo.

But Joe said the event’s main purpose aims to be educational.

“It gives kids a chance to get out in the sunshine and see the farm,” Joe said. “There’s a desperate need for people to be in tune with what’s local.”

The money from the event goes to support the operations of the ranch, which has been in the Wilson family for 131 years. Kate Wilson said the Harvest Festival brings in about one-third of their annual proceeds.

The Harvest Festival will continue today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’ll also run next weekend during the same hours.

Entrance and parking is free, but admission to “Straw Town,” which features a straw-bale maze, the petting zoo, and many of the games, is $10 per person, or $30 for a family of as many as two adults, and three children. There’s no admission price for infants.

The ranch is at 16397 U.S. Highway 12, Clarkston.

For more information, go online to wilsonbannerranch.com.

Tomtas may be contacted at jtomas@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.

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