Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Birth of a Pignic

Our 10th annual Boston Fall Pignic is scheduled for this Sunday (if the weather holds - otherwise we will hope for good weather on the 30th).  I can't believe it's been 10 years.

One of the early pignics - guinea pigs outnumbered humans
I guess you could say the Boston Pignic owes it's existence to a guinea pig named Eclair.  I had joined a couple of guinea pig forums in 2003 to research her mammary tumor and ovarian cysts.  I soon discovered there were quite a few guinea pig owners in the greater Boston area.  About that time I stumbled across the New England pignic, which was held in western Massachusetts, posted on CavyMadness.  I was intrigued.  I contacted Tammy and asked her if she would put together a pignic closer to home.  It seemed a shame to travel for hours for a pignic when we had a quorum locally.  Tammy told me she was interested, if I could locate a site that met three requirements:  untreated grass, no loose dogs, near public transportation.  If I could find that magical combination, she'd be happy to help get a local pignic off the ground.

I had been frequenting Wellesley parks at the time and a friend of mine pointed out that dogs were discouraged from the town hall property because of the duck pond.  The few dogs that did come to visit were normally leashed.  A call to the town hall confirmed they did not treat the lawn.  A commuter rail train stop was a block away.  I found out a permit could secure the site.  We picked a date, posted it on the forums and the Boston Pignic was born.

Our first pignic was August 31st, 2003 (and I don't have a single photo of that pignic). Sadly , Eclair was unable to come due a difficult spay.  But her sister, Teddi, attended the inaugural event.  There were several sows and one neurotic, frustrated boar named Eugene.  He spent most of the pignic trying to chew through the bars to get to those girls.  The sows largely ignored him.  Poor Eugene.  About a dozen people showed up, mostly adults and long-time guinea pig slaves.  Many people knew each other from the guinea pig forums.  We chatted about our pigs, watched them eat grass, took a group photo and decided this was a good thing.  Tammy decreed we should hold the pignic twice a year.  And we have (barring bad weather).

Fall 2007 - before a group photo became unwieldy
The Boston Pignic has evolved over the years.  The first pignics were extremely informal with a small group of people that mostly knew each other from online.  But as word spread, we started seeing many more pigs and humans come to the pignic, including a large number of brand new guinea pig owners and numerous children.  The last few years we've been averaging 50-60 attendees and roughly as many guinea pigs.  As the pignic demographic changed, so did the event.  We stopped taking a group photo (it became too difficult to line up so many people and pigs).  We redesigned the pens and created a set of rules hoping to keep both people and their guinea pigs safe and happy.  Some of the growing pains were unpleasant and there were times that Tammy and I wondered if it was worth the stress we put ourselves through.  Eventually we created the Pig Patrol, which has helped immensely.  We now have a group of pig-savvy members in bright green shirts to watch the pens, answer questions, inspect pigs, clip nails and assist in whatever else is required during the pignic.  We wouldn't be able to operate the Boston Pignic without their help.

I am sure this pignic will continue to grow and change over the years as we adjust to our pignic-goers' needs.  So huzzah to a decade of Boston pignics!  May they continue for many more years.


  1. But for me, in Connecticut - I miss the Stanley Park pignics, which disappeared once the Wellesley ones started. We had people from both ends of the Pike - the Boston and Albany areas - as well as the rest of southern New England. I went to the last one scheduled - and I was the only one there.Sigh.

    1. For that, I am sorry. We originally scheduled the Boston Pignics so they wouldn't conflict with the New England pignic. I never anticipated people would stop going to that one.


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