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I’m rarely in town for the State Fair, and this year have thoroughly enjoyed soaking up this much-part of North Dakota’s summer. -- Amy Allender (Photo: Amy Allender/The Dakotan)
I’m rarely in town for the State Fair, and this year have thoroughly enjoyed soaking up this much-part of North Dakota’s summer. -- Amy Allender (Photo: Amy Allender/The Dakotan)

Daryl's Racing Pigs IYKYK

Amy Allender
 July 28, 2022
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 MINOT -- IYKYK. Have you seen this cluster of letters floating through the expanse of social media feeds and stories? Total transparency: The first time I saw it I googled it. To save you the trouble, I’ll just tell you what it means. “If you know, you know.” IYKYK. 

I’ve come to love this expression and its initialism, because Hot Dish Territory is such an IYKYK kind of place. There are so many things that happen around here that sound utterly absurd until you’ve seen them firsthand. Other states and towns may get jazzed about major events and attractions—the draw of which can be easily explained.  

Here, we’re busy vying for books at the library sale, waiting in line for a balloon from Dizzy the Clown, and sharing a passion for bars. Let’s be clear on the last one: The “bars” I’m referring to are desserts cut into squares and served on napkins; most often seen at potlucks and funerals. IYKYK.  

Try explaining any of these to someone who isn’t from around here, and it won’t make sense until they see it with their own eyes. Even then, it still might not compute. 

So, what’s the most IYKYK thing in North Dakota? In my opinion, it’s not sunflower fields, breathtaking sunsets, Lawrence Welk, the odd definition of an “open-faced sandwich,” or even an insistence on saying Sa-KAK-a-WEE-ah, Sakakawea, instead of Sak-UH-jo-WEE-ah, Sacagawea, like the rest of the country. 

Daryl’s Racing Pigs is celebrating their 35th year. They are a long-time staple of State Fair entertainment. (Photo: Amy Allender/The Dakotan)

No. I think the most “if you know, you know” part of living in North Dakota is the thrill and elation associated with Daryl’s Racing Pigs. If you’re local, you’re probably nodding your head. If you aren’t from around here you are probably wrinkling your forehead in confusion.  

Picture this: cute piglets line up and race around a sawdust track. There are two races, each taking about 20 seconds to complete, during the 30-minute show. 

Now do you get it? Do you see why locals love it so much? 

No? That’s because you’ve got to see it. You’ve got to be there to really understand.  

At first, you may be shocked to see the bleachers around the miniature track completely packed before the race begins. Then, when you find a place to squeeze in, you start to feel the buzz of anticipation. The pigs come out, and you’re a little surprised at just how cute they are. Before you know it, you are cheering for a pig race, laughing at Daryl’s jokes, and crossing your fingers in hopes of winning a t-shirt. After only 30 minutes of observing the pig race, you’ve firmly decided you would definitely, and proudly, wear a Daryl’s Racing Pigs shirt. And you’re a little bummed when you don’t win. I’m speaking from experience, here.  

As you navigate the dispersing crowd you tell yourself, “There’s always next year.” Suddenly, you get it. Now, you’ve seen the pigs. You’ll be back. Now you know. 

The 2022 State Fair marks 35 years of Daryl’s Racing Pigs. As long as I’ve been living, tiny pigs have been delighting audiences with their adorable ability to run in circles. Children who grew up watching pig races are now bringing their children to the stands, making it equal parts tradition, nostalgia, and genuine thrill.  

It may not be a million-dollar act for America’s Got Talent, but boy-oh-boy, it’s entertaining. After listening to a list of entertainment options, Daryl’s Racing Pigs was the one thing my four-year-old repeatedly reminded me he wanted to see. Their 5:30 p.m. show was the cornerstone to our fair-going experience. And let me say, we were not disappointed. IYKYK. 

Waiting for the much-anticipated start of a cute little pigs race. (Photo: Amy Allender/The Dakotan)

There’s nothing better than allowing yourself to get completely excited by something beautifully simple and quirky. There’s nothing better than living in a place where that kind of excitement is cultivated and kept sacred. 

Whether it’s racing pigs, or clowns, or lefse, or something totally different, I’m sure you’ve got your own IYKYK thing. Hang on to it tightly, and savor the mundane glee it so effortlessly generates. 

To connect with me further, get inspiration for positive living, or tell me your own IYKNK moment—join me on Instagram, @amy_allender or on Facebook, @amyallenderblog.  

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