When Pig Day rolls around Saturday, March 2, at the Davis Farmers Market, local volunteers will provide nearly all the fun, with farmers and food vendors providing all the yum.
Now in its 22nd year, Pig Day holds fast to its status as one of the more unique farmers market events in California, celebrating local food, local agriculture and pigs. Market manager Randii MacNear says this signature Davis Farmers Market event attracts more people every year and has become part of the Davis culture.
“We have visitors from all over Sacramento and Yolo counties that day and more people attend every year,” she says. “Pig Day celebrates the pig’s rightful place as one of man’s most intelligent and useful domesticated animals, and it’s the only event of its kind in California.
“And we simply could not do this event without our enthusiastic volunteers.”
Those volunteers include local people and organizations.
For 18 years, Woodland farmer Jim Neilson has volunteered to bring more than a half-dozen 3- to 4-week-old baby pigs for everyone to pet.
Four Davis locals — second-grade teachers Fiorella Mendoza, Ava Cruz, Eva M. Dopico and UC Berkeley researcher Chris Jones — return to play the starring roles of the Three Pigs and Big Bad Wolf. Dopico, who teaches second grade at César Chávez Elementary School, says she and her fellow volunteers are proud to be “the chosen ones” for Pig Day.
“We can be as silly as we want and we love making children and adults laugh,” she says. “And UC Davis students never get grumpy if we try to hug them or dance with them.”
Volunteers from Davis Community Church Nursery School, Davis Parent Nursery School and University Covenant Nursery School provide free piggie crafts for kids that day. UC Davis Rotaract volunteers inflate and bunch hundreds of piggie balloons to decorate the market pavilion, and they staff the pig-tail craft booth at the event.
Grace Valley Christian Center volunteers arrive at the crack of dawn to set up Pig Day, and return at the end of the market to take it all down. Davis artist Heidi Bekebrede offers kids a chance to form and paint their own clay piggy bank for a fee. Bekebrede fires the painted piggy banks and kids can pick up their finished work at the market shed a few weeks after Pig Day.
The Food Bank of Yolo County also offers a farm breakfast of pancakes, bacon and juice with proceeds benefiting the local community. To make their Pig Day breakfast — pancakes, eggs, bacon, potatoes, coffee and juice — the Food Bank looks to sponsors, including the Davis Food Co-op, Food 4 Less/Nugget Market, Grocery Outlet in Woodland and Sodexo/UC Davis Dining Services. Sodexo volunteers work as chefs for the breakfast, and Food Bank volunteers help with food preparation, serving and cleanup.
James Boushka, marketing director of UC Davis Dining Services, says, “UC Davis Dining Services is proud to partner with the Yolo County Food Bank in pursuit of eradicating the impact of hunger in our local community. Hunger-related issues impact all of us and any effort to raise awareness, food, or even funds ensure a stronger, more vibrant community.”
Sutter Davis Hospital chefs will staff a live cooking station, cooking and sampling a pork fajita pasta, made from Bledsoe pork and market vegetables, and sharing recipe cards for the dish.
Still hungry? Davis Farmers Market food vendors will offer piggie pops (Upper Crust Bakery’s sweet French bread on a stick in the shape of a pig’s head); Caffé Italia’s smoked, roasted pork ribs and farm-fresh pizzas (bacon optional); Fat Face’s breakfast sammie (with bacon or pulled pork) and farm-fresh ice pops, including “bacon and egg” made with an egg custard base and bacon caramel; the Hotdogger’s pigs-in-a-blanket; and pig cookies.
Plus, Davis Creamery will be selling lots of pink frozen confections, including peppermint and rose-water cardamon ice cream, as well as watermelon sherbet.
Visitors can take friends’ and family photos with The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon at the Oak Tree Deck. And don’t miss MacNear in her annual appearance as Ms. Piggie. The Peter Franklin Band and Putah Creek Crawdads will offer crowd-pleasing Americana music and pony rides are offered by Pony Ranch Parties.
The market runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays in Central Park, Fourth and C streets in downtown Davis. For more information, visit www.davisfarmersmarket.org or call 530-756-1695.