Bob the big boar is just like everyone else at the Ohio State Fair — he loves sweets.
Marsha Steel, Bob’s owner, used Oreo cookies to coax the 1,180-pound hog to his feet. When he rose with a labored grunt, Steel was dwarfed by the half-ton boar.
To celebrate the opening day of the 165th State Fair Wednesday, the boar was given his favorite treat: an intricately decorated, premium cake from a local bakery. The cake was adorned with pink and white flowers and sprinkles that resembled pearls, topped off with “165” in bright red icing.
Immediately, his tail started wagging, indicating his approval for the top-of-the-line cake. Bob won’t be cheated by generic baked goods, and he knows the difference between those and premium cakes, Steel said.
“Bob was born on the happiest side of the moon,” Steel, 53, said of the hog. “He’s a full-time job and he’s totally pampered, but he’s always so happy.”
Bob demolished the sheet cake within 10 minutes as about a dozen onlookers watched in amazement.
Raising champions is a family business: Steel and her husband have dominated the coveted big boar award at the fair for the past five years. Bob’s massive stature earned him the title of Ohio State Fair Buckeye Champion Big Boar in 2013. From 2014 until 2017, Steel’s husband, Kenneth Glander, showed another award-winning hog until 8-year-old Bob came out of retirement this year.
The couple from Germantown, near Dayton, maintains that while Bob might look like he’s fat, he’s quite fit and eats a balanced diet of corn and soybeans — when he’s not indulging on his cheat days. Steel said Bob will get a cake a day during the fair.
“It’s just one of those weird things you happen to run into at the fair,” said fair visitor Tom Muchmore, 66, of the Northwest Side. “You never know what you’re going to find. Today, it’s a giant pig eating a birthday cake.”
Bob was one of the many creatures — human and livestock alike — celebrating the first day of the State Fair. The balmy forecast provided a perfect backdrop to the opening day.
First-timers and seasoned veterans were all smiles as they milled through the midway, slurping fresh-squeezed lemonade and munching on turkey legs and other treats.
“I’ve been coming to the fair for 60 years,” said Craig Zimmerman, 68, who drove nearly two hours from Celina in western Ohio. “I grew up on a farm, so I really appreciate seeing the livestock and shows, and it’s fun to have the grandkids here now.”
The fair runs through Aug. 5, offering a multitude of attractions from rides to stunt shows to concert headliners.
“It’s really cool,” first-time fairgoer Boedy Greuey, an 11-year-old from Malta in Morgan County, said as he sat in shade near the midway with his family. “It’s really big, and I love all the animals and food.”
Originally published by The Columbus Dispatch on July 25, 2018.