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Going Hog Wild in Martin County

Jeff Rouse and Alex Young-Williams stand next to Garbo, located outside Rouse’s studio at 103 W. 1st St. in downtown Fairmont. Garbo is the first of many hog statues to be installed as part of the Going Hog Wild in Martin County project.

FAIRMONT — Residents of Martin County can soon expect to see dozens of hog statues at businesses and other establishments. Going Hog Wild hopes to serve as a way to draw attraction and tourism by promoting businesses, organizations and cities throughout the county.

Jeff Rouse, downtown business owner of Our Story Studios, said that the idea originally started as a way to revitalize downtown Fairmont. Rouse said there is a group of individuals who are working toward developing ways to involve and promote the community.

“We started talking to some businesses and organizations downtown about sponsoring a hog and the interest was very strong and a lot of people were on board right away,” Rouse said.

“But then we talked about doing it all over Fairmont and then we were approached by people who talked about adding other communities in Martin County because it is honoring the pork producers throughout the county.”

Rouse said the community is and should be proud of the pork-producing successes in the county, and he and the group felt this would be a good starting point to work off of by utilizing statues of pigs.

Alex Young-Williams is a Lead for Minnesota Fellow serving Project 1590 in Fairmont. He’s also a member of the downtown revitalization committee and one subcommittee he chartered is the amenities team. He said it’s a community-driven group.

“This is something we think will really get people thinking about the county. It’s in the top five pork-producing counties in the country. We want to do something to highlight that that’s fun and interactive,” Young-Williams said.

They have been working on finding people and businesses who are interested in sponsoring a hog.

Rouse said they have verbal commitments from more than 20 businesses and organizations in Fairmont as well as other towns in Martin County that would like to sponsor a hog.

“We’re hoping to commission 30 statues in total this year,” Young-Williams said.

They have a manufacturer in Kellogg, Minn. Each hog is 2 feet tall and weighs almost 400 pounds. They sit on a 2-foot platform.

“The design was selected because it lends itself to great photo-ops and selfies,” Rouse said.

A Facebook page, Going Hog Wild in Martin County MN, is set up and to date, Rouse said more than 150 people have stopped to take a photo with Garbo the pig, which is located outside of his studio in downtown Fairmont.

“This will be a great draw. There will be a map showing where they’re located. People can go from one pig to another. They can take photos and post them on our Facebook page. Businesses can have give-aways or events around their pig. There are tons of opportunities to promote organizations and businesses and towns that have the pigs in place,” Rouse said.

The plan is to get them and store them in a warehouse. Then, throughout the winter, artists will paint each hog to represent the business or organization it will be placed at. Rouse said they’re working on securing some grants to help pay for artist fees.

Nancy Katzer painted the first hog, which is located outside of Rouse’s studio. Rouse said they have several area artists who have expressed interest in the project. The hogs will then be unveiled in the spring.

Both Rouse and Young-Williams hope the project will draw attention to Martin County and also spark the public’s interest in community art.

“It’s something to get people talking. It’s intended to be community-wide,” Young-Williams said.

As a long-term goal, Rouse said he would like the see 100 hog statues throughout the county in the next three years.

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