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CNN Today

Cincinnati Goes Hog Wild for Big Pig Gig

Aired June 9, 2000 - 1:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A bold idea in public art catching on in different parts of the country -- you may remember last summer, a stampede hit Chicago in the form of fiberglass cows, about 400 of them. Cows on Parade was seen by an estimated 10 million people. The project added about $200 million to the local economy.

Now Cincinnati wants a piece of that same pie, and they're willing to make pigs out of themselves to do it.

Bringing home the bacon is Melody Sawyer Richardson, the co-chair of the Big Pig Gig that officially kicks off this weekend. She joins us live from Cincinnati.

Who's that with you, Melody. Is that Ms. Piggy, or who is that?

MELODY SAWYER RICHARDSON, CO-CHAIR, BIG PIG GIG: Well, we've got Summer Fair on my left -- Sowmer Fair, S-O-W -- who is a characterization of an arts and crafts festival we have. And to my right we have the Button Glutton, which is...

HEMMER: Oh, those are buttons then, is that right?

RICHARDSON: Yes, and it's made by the Sycamore High School students. We have over 52 school pigs.

HEMMER: Now, pigs and Cincinnati, I know the history personally because I grew up there.

Tell us why pigs -- Porkopolis, quickly.

RICHARDSON: Porkopolis was our nickname in the 1840's to 60's. We were the hog-slaughtering capital of the universe. We shipped pigs to England and down South and everywhere.

HEMMER: Pretty proud of that, aren't we?

RICHARDSON: Yes, at least now we are.

HEMMER: Right. Hey, listen, the idea started back in Zurich, Switzerland with cows. Chicago caught it last year. New Orleans is doing something with fish. In New York City, they're going to do cows as well, but the folks in New York are making fun of Cincinnatians.

RICHARDSON: Hey, that's OK. HEMMER: They say the pigs aren't that cool.

Your response to that?

RICHARDSON: The pigs are way cool. I mean, the pigs have individual personality. Pigs are intrinsically funny. And we love our pigs. And we got flying pigs or not flying pigs, you take your pick.

HEMMER: Yes, let's talk about the design, because we're seeing some videotape here. Some are sitting, some walking, some standing.

RICHARDSON: Right.

HEMMER: How did some of the designs come out in addition to the ones we're looking at here and the two you have with you?

RICHARDSON: Well, we have the three designs you mentioned, but each of them comes with or without wings. So you can have flying pigs with either one of them. And people have added stuff to them and taken away. We have one that's a bench for couch potatoes and we have all sorts of different variations.

You see one over here hanging that's called Pigasus.

HEMMER: Whoa, taken off from the Greek horse Pegasus.

RICHARDSON: Yes, Pegasus, right.

HEMMER: Hey, we talked about the folks in New York. How are folks in Cincinnati reacting? What do they think of it?

HEMMER: You know, ours is a community-based event done by a bunch of volunteers and a not-for-profit organization, and the whole community has really embraced this. We have not-for-profit organizations that have bought pigs and are going to donate them to auction and make money at the end of it on November 13th when we have our auction.

HEMMER: Melody, let me just stop you there. What are you going to put the money toward?

RICHARDSON: Half of it goes to ArtWorks, which is a wonderful community-based employment youth program in the summer time, and kids learn job skills -- half of it goes to that because they've done all the work. They're the producer. The other half goes to any not-for- profit you name, so many, many charities, schools, hospitals, opera, ballet, arts will benefit from this charity auction at the end.

HEMMER: Excellent. Quickly, what's your message to folks in New Orleans and other places doing this as well?

RICHARDSON: I think it's terrific, and I wish them great good luck from Cincinnati. And we hope everybody has a very successful summer. We hope people come on down to Cincinnati. This is great hog-viewing weather. We've got almost 400 pigs, which is about 80 more cows than there were in Chicago. So if you want density, we got it.

HEMMER: Excellent.

RICHARDSON: And it's regional.

HEMMER: Hey, great sense of pride and a great sense humor as well -- Porkopolis, it's kicking today, isn't it?

RICHARDSON: It really is.

HEMMER: All right, Melody Sawyer Richardson, live there in Cincinnati, co-chair of the Big Pig Gig going down this weekend.

Thanks again. Good luck through October.

RICHARDSON: Yes, thank you.

HEMMER: All righty. Nice day there, too, as well.

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