Steve Boger starts his show at the Carroll County 4-H Fair with a trilling bugle call, the quick welcome tune that is synonymous with opening ceremonies at a racetrack.
But his are not your typical races.
There are no jockeys for these snout-nosed racers. They wear "mini-piggy silks" (actually made of felt) emblazoned with their number. And Boger's mouth runs a mile a minute as he calls the racers' 10-second bolt around the miniature track in pursuit of victory.
Welcome to the Ham Bone Express pig races.
"This is not like a horse race, mmm mmmmm," Boger, 47, tells the crowd drawn to his corner of the Westminster fairgrounds from the moment he puts on the country music to signal show time.
"Horses race for the roses. And greyhound dogs will actually follow a mechanical rabbit around the track. My little piggies are so smart that they'll race for an Oreo cookie."
The free 15-minute shows - four races with four pigs each, served with a hearty helping or two of Boger's corny jokes - have become one of the most popular attractions at Carroll's weeklong fair.
The races are run four to five times a day.
"It's a big draw," fair manager Barry C. Lippy said. "People have come back from last year just to see the pigs race again. It's a really good show."
He said it cost the fair several thousand dollars to have Boger's show there for six days.
It's the kind of show that attracts mostly little kids. Many youngsters - especially those who spend the whole week at the fair competing in the various 4-H contests - scramble into the bleachers that surround the track two and three times a day to see the same routine.
"I like how they run and race and win," gushed 8-year-old James Rawlings, whose family lives on a cattle farm about 10 miles north of Westminster. "I like how they're cute. They're so cute."
For James, the pig races are one of the best things about the annual fair. One of the best things about summer, even. Seeing the pigs race has persuaded him to race pigs when he grows up, rather than racecars.
In addition to inspiring career choices, Boger's show keeps the moms and dads in the audience chuckling with his tongue-in-cheek humor.
He deadpans about the tragedy that struck his pig racing operation when a slick track caused one swine to pull a hamstring.
Announcing one team of racers, he jokes that now is the time for all the photographers in the crowd to take advantage of their high-speed film.
And then there are the names of his pigs.
The country and western runners - "from Memphis," Boger says - are named Dolly Porkin, Barbara Swine-del, Swine-nona Judd and Billy Ray Swine-rus. The movie star racers are Nicole Pigman, Arnold Schwarzen-pigger, Oprah Ham-frey and Kevin Bacon.
And with a nod to his home state of Arkansas, his fastest bunch of porkers hail from the Bill Clinton Racing Stables in Washington, D.C. "They are Slick Willie, Miss Hillary Hog, Mr. Al Boar," Boger says, "and America's sweetheart, here she comes, Monica Piginsky."
For about 49 weeks of the year, Boger takes this act on the road, hauling his 53-foot trailer and 17 swine from fair to fair, mostly up and down the East Coast. He spends his winters in Puerto Rico, where his pigs race at three different fairs, and typically hits 20 states in an average year.
Boger's "home" is in Springdale, Ark., where his wife of 28 years works as a nurse, though he only spent three weeks there last year.
"We've been working 28 days straight without a day off now in four different cities," he said as he got ready for the day's races one morning this week. "I say `work,' but it's not really like work. The worst part is fighting the traffic from town to town."
Boger has been racing pigs for about the past five years, ever since a similar act at a fair in Baton Rouge made him laugh. Before that, Boger, his wife and three children traveled the country with his family's 150-animal educational petting zoo. And before that, they performed with buffalo and mountain lions in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
By his own estimation, Boger has set foot in every state at least 10 times and seen every major tourist attraction the United States has to offer.
Four of his five brothers and his sister earn a living by working with animals. One brother runs a pig racing show nearly identical to his own. Another made national headlines in May when his trio of tic-tac-toe-performing chickens was snatched from a Pennsylvania fair. Boger's 72-year-old father, Bunky, still travels with the family's petting zoo.
Of the 30 or so fairs that he attends each year, Boger counts Carroll County's among his favorites.
"It's a smaller fair but it's all good, country people who come to have a good time," he said. "Most fairs these days have these big, huge carnivals. This is all completely different. This one is a good, clean county fair."