Pigs might not fly at this year's Heritage Fair, and they probably won't go "wee, wee, wee" all the way home, but they will definitely go swimming.
That's right—they'll swim!
The popular pig races, a staple of the three-day festival for many years, will have a new twist this year when the piglets race in water instead of on the ground.
The porcine races will be held every 90 minutes from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The swimming pigs attraction is just one of many new features at this year's three-day Independence Day celebration, according to entertainment chairman Bob Fogle.
An expanded "kids' row" will include a reading area (where 3,000 children's books will be given away), a bounce apparatus, rock-climbing wall, and a Boy Scouts village.
The Department of Natural Resources will display its Wall of Shame, a collection of antlers of poached animals.
Three local recreation councils will have soccer, baseball and lacrosse game booths, and the Civil Air Patrol will brings a computerized flight simulator.
Turkey Hill Ice Cream Cream is donating 3,000 cups of its frozen treats, and the company's 12-foot-by-10-foot cow model will be on display all weekend.
A animal petting and learning center will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Music is the centerpiece of the festival, and Fogle said he and the committee strive to ramp up the entertainment offerings each year.
Friday night's main stage act is Dennis DeYoung, a founding member of the band Styx. His performance begins at 8 p.m.
Sunday's band lineup consists of four tribute bands, Fogle said, as the committee tries a new themed stage lineup.
Captain Fantastic, an Elton John tribute band will start Sunday's main stage set, followed by Odyssey Road (Journey, 3:30 p.m.), and Almost Queen (Queen tribute, 5:30 p.m.).
Other entertainment includes Hectic Red, Glenn and the Gemtones, Sons of Riley, The Gigs and crowd favorite Ronnie Dove.
The complete entertainment schedule is availabel on the Heritage Fair website.
Huge Volunteer Effort
When Heritage Fair officially kicks off at noon today, it will be thanks to a gargantuan effort of more than 500 volunteers, many of whom work all year on the three-day celebration, according to Fogle.
And he should know.
The 74-year-old who no longer even lives in Dundalk has worked on the fair its entire 37 years of existence.
Started in 1976 as a one-time celebration of the nation's bicentennial, the fair was so popular that people begged for it to continue, Fogle said.
Now an Anne Arundel County resident, Fogle chaired the festival for 15 years and has been the entertainment chairman since 1987.
"I might live in Severna Park, but my ties are here," he said. "My ties will always be in Dundalk."
The Dundalk Heritage Association's annual budget to throw the nation's birthday party—which includes the fair, parade and fireworks—is about $250,000, Fogle said.
The daily admission to the fair is $5 for adults and children 12 and older. Children ages 11 and younger are admitted free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult.
The low entrance fee is something Fogle and the rest of the committee are proud of.
"We had some complaints when we raised the cost a dollar, from $4 to $5," Fogle said. "But we try to keep the cost down for the families—we're a family-oriented event and we want families to be able to come."
While "every penny" made goes right back to the fair, corporate sponsorships are the main reason gate admission can be kept as low as it is.
The fair's headlining sponsor this year is Mars super markets, according to the fair program.
Other major sponsors include the Dundalk Walmart, the law offices of Peter G. Angelos and Starleigh Entertainment.
The first two years of the fair, admission was free, Fogle said. In 1978, fair officials decided to charge a fee and folks paid $1 to attend.
Increases over the year occurred rarely, going up $1 at a time until the current $5 fee was reached several years ago.
"The fee is affordable for everyone, and it enabled us to stop going door-to-door begging for money," Fogle said. "It (isn't) easy keeping the cost down, but we're making it."
Plenty of Fun
The fair gates open today at noon and local leaders will officially declare the 37th annual Heritage Fair under way in an opening ceremony at 3 p.m.
The festival will be open noon to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Non-stop music and a variety of entertainment will take place on three stages, including one in the beer garden.
Food and beverage vendors, an arts and crafts tent, carnival rides, community organization and commercial booths and a variety of activities will complete the fair scene.
And pigs will swim until the cows come home.
Or at least until 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.