The term “pig out” has a special meaning on the streets of Uptown Lexington.
An outdoor Pigs in the City campaign takes place each year from May through mid-October with life-sized fiberglass pigs decorating the landscape on various streets through the uptown district. The program was initiated as a whimsical way for Lexington to promote its many barbecue restaurants.
“This is a public art project where the fiberglass pigs are shipped to us plain white, and a variety of area artists submit designs in an effort to become part of the program,” says Jo Ellen Edwards, executive director of Uptown Lexington Inc. “Companies and individuals can sponsor a pig while it appears on the street during the five-month run, and then they can purchase the interesting art object once mid-October arrives.”
Edwards says a pig can be purchased for $1,000 plus whatever the artist charges, depending on how much work goes into the design and painting. A large portion of the $1,000 goes to Uptown Lexington, a nonprofit organization that promotes the uptown portion of the city.
“During its history, the event has attracted visitors from at least 30 states and six foreign countries who enjoy looking at the artistic pigs,” Edwards says. “If any of the pigs are not sold, we host an auction in late October to sell the remaining sculptures. Then we start over again the following May.”
More than 120 pigs have been painted over the past several years, and each has a personality and name, such as Sparky, Gracie, Zeb, Heavenly Hog, ChalkBOAR, Captain Porkgan, Bass Hog and Bacon Beacon.
“The artists seem to outdo themselves each year,” Edwards says. “It’s an interesting project, and one that more and more people in North Carolina – and beyond – are finding out about.”