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The They Come Out at Night Issue

Hip-Hop Hog-Calling at the Iowa State Fair

In this month's Artifact, Wilbert Cooper remembers defying the odds and winning a hog-calling contest at the Iowa State Fair as a rookie.

by Wilbert L. Cooper
23 November 2016, 12:00am

This story appeared in the November issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe

As a 20-something black Brooklynite, I am the last person you'd expect to compete in the Iowa State Fair's hog-calling contest, let alone win it. But in the summer of 2015, as part of a national road trip for the TV show VICE Does America, I found myself in a scene out of Twin Peaks. My hog-calling competitors were geriatric midwesterners, dressed like Eustace and Muriel Bagge from Courage the Cowardly Dog, who'd mastered the art of communicating with swine long before I was born. Some cried out the traditional "sooie," while others impressed the stoic judges with high-pitched squalls.

When it was my time to hog call, I relied on my love of hip-hop and employed call-and-response. I clapped my hands and stomped my feet on beat, and chanted, "Hey piggy, piggy, pig, pig! Come here!" And the crowd called back, "Come here!" By the end, the whole audience was on their feet. Not only did I win the contest and get this nifty blue ribbon, I was featured on the local news.

I'm told that even though only a few thousand people may have seen my hog call, every one of those farmers is using my "hey, piggy, piggy, pig, pig" in their animal husbandry.

—Wilbert L. Cooper, VICELAND

This story appeared in the November issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

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Volume 23 Issue 8
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