Once a year, the tiny community of Laggan, in the NSW Southern Tablelands, comes alive with a rip-snorter of an event: the Thoroughbred Piglet Races.
The town’s population of 358 swills to the 1000 mark for the event when people come from all parts of NSW and the ACT.
Organised by the Upper Lachlan Foundation as a fundraiser for the local community, the event was first staged in 2018 to help the region’s not-for-profit groups.
“We set up the foundation back in 2009-2010 when the drought was at its height,” says foundation board member Susan Reynolds.
“As a rule, country people don’t like relying on government handouts, we like to pull up our own socks when times are tough. So we set up the foundation to help people in this community.”
The last time the Laggan Thoroughbred Piglet Races were held, in 2020 – they were cancelled in 2021 because of COVID-19 – they raised much-needed funds for the foundation. This year, they will be held on Saturday, 19 February, in the grounds of the historic Laggan Hotel and promise to be a ‘porker’ of an event.
Upper Lachlan Foundation chairman Chris Croker says everyone is invited to Laggan to experience the races.
“This will be a great fun day for all ages so bring a chair, get into the spirit with friends and enjoy,” he says.
“This is also a great opportunity to support our rural community that is recovering from too many challenges during the past few years, and in true country spirit.”
So here’s all the dirt on the races.
The pigs, all thoroughbreds fly (yes, they really do) down from Queensland for the event. They take to the specially constructed Hog Heaven racetrack in their colourful silks, with Calcuttas and sweeps on all races.
Sponsors can pay to have their names on the silks. It’s probably just as well pigs can’t read – one of the 2020 races was called the Ham Stakes.
There will also be a form guide on the day chop-full of helpful advice. In the 2020 guide, Piglet No 3 was deemed a fast mover after being threatened with de-sexing, while punters were advised not to be distracted by No 6’s barrel shape.
Entrants won’t have a chance to be boar-ed as they trot their way through a number of obstacle courses, including climbing over bales of hay and making their way through doors before they can hog their reward at the end: milk.
Punters won’t need to hock the house to have a bet, with an official race caller onsite to ensure the results are clear. But the twist (in the tail) is that the prize money is shared by the winner and the Upper Lachlan Foundation so no-one should even think about hogging the trough.
In between the five-race card, visitors will be treated to live music and other entertainment. Refreshments will also be available.
A number of trusts are set up under the umbrella of the foundation to help specific needs locally such as mental health, the arts, the environment and education. Since it began, it has raised more than $800,000, which includes bequeaths.
“At our last pig races we cleared about $15,000, which was fantastic,” says Susan. “Through that we could help lots of community groups in our area, including at Taralga, Gunning, Crookwell, Bigga and Laggan.”
Entry on the day is $5 for adults, and children are free.
For more information on the 2022 Laggan Thoroughbred Piglet Races on Saturday, 19 February, click here.