The Swingin’ Swine

Submitted by BRBill January 17th, 2011
Certifikitsch Winner

I guess these guys and gals are wooden and nailed to stakes planted in the ground, they’re The Swingin’ Swine! And they’re the spiritual “house band” for Pigfest, a huge country/family party up near Tallulah in Madison Parish northeast Louisiana out on the Talla Bena Plantation. For me, that’s what i call a day trip. Up early in the morning, head out north onto Highway 61 The Great River Road, The Blues Highway. Pass thru the interminable construction zone which is St. Francisville, La., past the Angola road to the state prison, up into the wilds of Mississippi past the Mammy restaurant outside of Natchez, then thru Natchez on the bluffs, thru Fayette, thru Port Gibson the town too beautiful to burn, and take a left in Vicksburg and cross the Mississippi River back into Louisiana. Get off I-20 to go pass by my great aunt’s house in Mound, then on to Tallulah and north up to Talla Bena waaay out in the country a mile or so from the Mississippi River levee out in the cotton fields. The party all starts with campers arriving on Wednesday to camp out on the grounds. The food and music start up on Friday evening with  gumbo and chili. The guest of honor, the pig, is roasted all night for the big to do all day Saturday. Then the tables are brought out and loaded with desserts, side dishes, casseroles, etc. and the feast is underway. All the while, there’s continuous music from the stage, all very good local acts. Can’t pay em much but they sure do get fed good. After getting there a bit before noon and having a good time all afternoon long, i’ll leave around sundown cause it gets “country dark” out there, ya can’t see your hand in front of your face dark. And that high thin cloud way up in the sky from southwest to northeast is the Milky Way, not a high thin cloud! That’s what you get when you live in the city and forget about the night sky.

17 Responses to “The Swingin’ Swine”

  1. Allee Willis

    I love little yard displays like this. Are the pigs handmade? And are they only in one person’s yard or do the swine gig on multiple people’s lawns?

    I really do love your travelogue, especially as outside of having an old friend who lived in Natchez and being there for a day once when another friend of mine was filming a mini series there I know nothing at all about that part of the country. Of course, I’d love you to take photos of the kitschy sites along the way on a trip such as this as I really love blow-by-blow visual details.

    When does Pigfest happen?

    • rubies3

      I’m the granddaughter of the woman who’s house Pigfest takes place at. I’m V.I.P ;D Tallulah is basically isolated from town, its waaaaay out in the country with a duck hunting house as a neighbor. Theyre handmade, one of a kind. I forget who made them…. we put them out every year the weekend before Halloween. Those pigs are nearest the house in the enourmous yard so they arent even visible from the road haha. It’s a private party, but we love newcomers, maybe if you’re interested give me a call at 504-327-8101?

  2. BRBill

    Thank y’all both for the comments! Allee, i am pretty sure these are handmade and that this is their only gig. Pigfest happens in late October and i make an effort to get off that weekend to make the party if it’s my “work” weekend. I’ve got a number of pictures of “scenery” along the road tho i’m not too sure of the kitsch value of some of them other than the Mammy south of Natchez.

    • Allee Willis

      No mammies… They’re kitschy but in the wrong way. With my Color Purple, Earth Wind & Fire background I’ve learned to say no-no-no to mammies. But if you think any of the other roadside photos are good I’d love to see them. Now that you”re aware of kitsch I bet you you’ll see lots of it on your next trip!

      • BRBill

        No mammies will be submitted and to tell the truth, i never did see that as submittable anyway. I don’t see her/them as kitsch, more like been there forever Roadside America that’s hard to believe it’s still there.
        And then there’s that whole small pile of funky funky run down buildings/bars/places i’ve been by/in in some cases…

  3. denny

    1. The pig with hearts for eyes made me laugh out loud.

    2. I love gumbo and could live on it. I have southern blood wooshing through my veins.

    3. I’ve never been to a pig roast

    4. Love this post BRBILL!

    5. Is it okay to say I also love bacon?

    • BRBill

      The heart eyed pigletta is a favorite, makes me laugh also. Gumbo is one of those foods of life you need to function and keep your South Louisiana license up to date. Any time it’s cold and/or wet/rainy can be considered “gumbo weather” or any day you just have the envie for a bowl, even in the summer it’s on restaurant menus. Some folks have a mission to find the best bowl of gumbo, other than what your mama makes as she makes the best, just ask anyone. Many a bowl of many different kinds of gumbo have i had, from standard seafood to chicken/sausage to pheasant/quail/andouille to gumbo z’herbes(greens gumbo with no meat other than maybe a hamhock to flavor it). I prefer a dark roux as opposed to a light roux though i won’t complain about either. I think it’s ok to say you like bacon. Here it’s found as a seasoning in a whole lot of foods such as your snap beans so you won’t have unsalty snaps or z’haricot sont pas sale(the snap beans aren’t salty).

      • Allee Willis

        Proud to say that I love bacon,unless it’s overcooked and more like a little wood strip. I’m not so much of a gumbo person but that’s probably because I’ve never had the real thing. I’ve tried it now and then but probably need a big ol’ pot of the real deal South Louisiana brew to get me going.

  4. rubies3

    I’m glad I found this post….every once in a while I try to dig up articles about Pigfest on the internet. I’m a Foster, (thats my last name), the farmhouse that Pigfest is at is owned by a Foster. Specifically my dearest grandmother, Debbie Foster. So I’m basically a VIP. I come early to set up the whole shebang, my mom and dad, aunts and uncles all sponsor the party, because it takes so much money to accomplish. We run off of tshirt sales and donations. It’s a private party, I ALWAYS wish it lasted longer. Its my favorite holiday, look forward to it every year. I’m so proud of it. I basically grew up there, until we moved to south louisiana. We have a different theme each year, and a different tshirt design. We sell them at about 15 a piece to support all of the lights, decor, roasted pigs, policemen (to make sure nobody unwanted gets in), necklaces, and 700 invitations we send out. Pigfest is my passion, and only someone who’s been could understand why. All of my friends and family compiled into one 3-acre plot for two days? Huge buffet of home cooked meals? Live music 24/7? What could be better? I feel so safe, so loved, and so peaceful when I’m there. The cool, crisp, chilly autumn air makes everything better. Sleeping in a tent squished between my cousin and her best friend….taking a hike with people i dont even know, showing them around the forest…swinging on a tire with three other people over a freezing bayou…glopping delicious fruit salad and homeade casseroles onto hundreds of plastic plates…. listening to third cousins and 13-year olds and mayors and district attourneys play beautiful music on stage… burying myself in hay…petting each chicken, calling them by their names, collecting their eggs…. selling tshirts…Its literally the closest thing to paradise I’ll ever get.

    • Allee Willis

      SO WONDERFUL to read! Sounds like in an incredible time and something that most people don’t get to experience, especially with their families. Definitely my kind of event!

      Do you live close to there?

  5. Jayme

    Well I am so proud to let all of you know that the Swingin’ Swine Band was and is designed and made by my husband specifically for Pigfest. He adds at least one new one a year. He has been working on this years new pig. He has in the past made all kinds of yard ornaments but these are only for Pigfest!! My husband was in shock when I showed him this article. Thanks for all the wonderful comments. rubies3 I can’t wait to see you there!!!