- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
At Southern Barnyard Runners, a pig and duck racing organization from Huntingtown, it’s about entertaining families.
Owners and founders of Southern Barnyard Runners, Gail and Bill Hatfield, who each have full-time jobs with the county, travel the state from fair to fair with a dozen pigs and eight ducks.
Gail Hatfield, who calls the races, said the racing team began in 2004 with about three county fairs, and the second year attended five or six, and now the team participates in about a dozen fairs each year.
At the upcoming Calvert County Fair, which runs Sept. 26 through 30, Southern Barnyard Runners will perform each day of the fair at about 20-minute intervals.
“Every show is a little different because of audience interaction,” Gail Hatfield said.
The crowd is divided into four teams, and a child from each team comes forward to help and cheer. She said she usually picks the child who screams the loudest or stands out, adding that there are about 20 children involved with every show.
“It’s really the compassion for the kids that makes our show different,” she said. “We’re in it basically to entertain the kids.”
But, Gail Hatfield said, it entertains the adults, too.
George Grampp, a trustee for the Caroline County Agricultural Fair in Virginia, said during duck races, he’s seen “65-year-old people up there flapping their arms like they’re flapping their wings to make the ducks go faster.”
Grampp said when Southern Barnyard Runners first came to the Caroline County fair three years ago, his “immediate impression” was how family oriented the organization is.
“[Gail Hatfield’s] interaction with the children was incredible,” he said. “It’s the most entertaining venue we have and we wouldn’t entertain the idea of not having them back.”
The pigs and ducks, Gail Hatfield said, are bred, raised and trained on the Hatfields’ family farm, and are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each county also inspects the animals, she said.
“It’s a family business, and we try to keep it family oriented,” she said.