"Performing Pigs Go Hollywood at the Fair"
Performing Pigs go Hollywood at Fair
Washington state-based act wows crowd with intelligence, tricks, showmanship
By ANGELA TABLAC, The Pueblo Chieftain Online
Performing Vietnamese pot-bellied pig Petunia Pancake gets airborne as she leaps through a hoop Wednesday during a show at the Colorado State Fair.
CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/BRYAN KELSEN
Thirteen-year-old Nellie's jump-start to fame came from a 60-second film, "Jurassic Pork," shown on ''America's Funniest Home Videos" in 1991.
But Nellie wasn't one of the human actors. She's a miniature Vietnamese pot-bellied pig - and now a star.
Since the video that won $10,000, Nellie has performed on "Oprah" and "The Today Show." She has appeared more than 30 times on the Animal Planet channel. And on Tuesday, Nellie demonstrated to more than 80 people the trick she did on the "Late Show with David Letterman." Nellie prodded a plastic bowling ball down the Pepsi Stage in Family Park, abandoned the ball and then used her snout to knock down plastic bowling pins.
Nellie appeared at the Colorado State Fair as the star of Valentines Performing Pigs. Nellie and three other miniature pigs - Snort, 5; Petunia Pancake, 2; and Paris, 3 months - performed several tricks, including slam-dunking, skateboarding, pushing a plastic mower and making a hole-in-one.
Husband and wife Priscilla and Steve Valentine travel from their Seattle-area home to shows, state fairs and appearances nine months out of the year.
"I have loved pigs since I was 3 years old," Priscilla Valentine said.
Snort was the first to join Priscilla Valentine on stage Tuesday, dancing in a circle for the audience.
"Did you know that pigs are actually smarter than dogs?" Priscilla Valentine said to the crowd, explaining pigs rank third on the scale of animal intelligence.
Snort fetched a frisbee, exercised with step aerobics and steered a ball into a soccer goal. When Snort made a slam-dunk, Priscilla Valentine called him "Shaq O'Squeal."
But 3-month-old Paris, with black spots dotting her brown body, kept the children in the crowd interested. The baby piglet briefly came out during the show and was petted by a crowd of children following the final act.
After each trick, the pork performers received a treat. Priscilla Valentine said the pigs have a "hierarchy of food they love," with their top three favorites pizza, cheese and popcorn.
"The harder the trick, the better the food they get rewarded," she added.
State Fair visitors can see these pigs perform twice a day, every day except Sunday, at the Pepsi Stage.