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Tips & Tricks for Bacon Buddies® Show Organizers

Keys for a successful event:

  • Be flexible! It is ok if things don’t go 100% as planned, be prepared to make changes on the fly
  • Be patient with participants and pigs!
  • Be supportive of reactions of the participants (many of them this might be their first time around a pig).
  • Be cognizant of sensory sensitivity (noises, space, lighting, crowds, cameras, pigs, water, shavings).
  • This is an experience; everyone is a winner! All Buddies should receive the same prize for their participation.



  • Space: make-up ring, show ring, area for participants to collect ribbons after they exit the show ring
    • Allows for parent/guardian to reunite with Buddies, and pig owner to locate and put away pig
  • Show equipment
    • Show sticks, brushes, spray bottles, sorting board, etc.
    • Who provides these? Are they borrowed from pig owner or the mentor?
  • T-shirts (if provided)
    • Consider making T-shirts different based on involvement (buddy, youth mentor, volunteer)

Things to consider:

  • Have audience (i.e. “fan zone”) located where participants exit the show ring
    • Provides encouragement, high-fives, congratulations, etc.
    • As participants make their way to the designated space where parents/guardians reunite with Buddies
  • Creating name tags for those involved
  • Photo backdrop availability and location approximate to show ring

Analyze your event (location, facilities, parking, audience, and support)

Checklist and things to consider:

  • Event location
    • Is it handicap accessible? Are there bathrooms nearby? Consider comfort for participants and audience.
  • Timeframe of event
    • Consider time of day, temperature, traffic to venue, audience support.
  • Parking
    • Is it close to the location of the event for participants not familiar with area? Consider handicap parking accessibility.
  • Admission
    • Is there admission to the event or fair? Who covers the cost for participants?

Identifying Buddies (Special Olympics Iowa athletes)

Checklist and things to consider:

  • Highly suggest working with an organized group (ex.: Special Olympics, local school district, etc.) to identify “Buddies”
    • Recommend contacting John Kliegl, Special Olympics Iowa Director of Regional Field Services
    • Parental or guardian consent is required

Identifying Youth Mentors (4-H and/or FFA)

Checklist and things to consider:

  • Select Mentors with high moral regard, appropriate maturity level and/or age
  • Mentors are not required to have swine exhibits
    • Swine exhibits can be used from another showman
  • Mentor should be calm, patient, encouraging, and can adapt to different situations

Identifying Volunteers

Checklist and things to consider:

  • Volunteer tasks
    • Distributing T-shirts
    • Help moving pigs from pens to the make-up area/show ring
    • One to two in the make-up ring to assist exhibitors (a sorting board may be helpful)
    • Two to three volunteers in the show ring to assist if necessary (a sorting board may be helpful)
    • Two volunteers should be present on the exiting side of the show ring to help participants make their way out
    • Two volunteers to assist with photos after the participants exit the show ring (with awards, Buddies, and Mentors)
  • Volunteer Selection
    • Kind and patient
    • Passionate about kids and pigs
    • Flexibility and willingness to help wherever the need arises during event
    • Must be available through entire event
    • Volunteers should be identified and notified of their role prior to the event

Selection of judge/emcee

Things to consider:

  • Kind, compassionate, patient, sensitive to situations
  • Ability to read people and situations (participants that are nervous, shy, or don’t want to talk into a microphone, etc.)
  • Ability to think/adjust on the fly
  • Charismatic on microphone
  • Aware of the importance of the event


Checklist and things to consider:

  • Will the pigs be used in other shows throughout the event?
    • either the day(s) prior or after
  • Pigs should be calm and have adequate level of training
  • Whose pigs will be used for the event? Are 4-H or FFA pigs already on-site?

Class size and duration

Checklist and things to consider:

  • No matter the show ring size, we suggest no more than four or five “teams” in a class
    • This allows the participants to stay engaged
  • We suggest the entire “show” should last no longer than an hour

Public relations

Checklist and things to consider:

  • Photography and/or videography
  • Advertising
    • Use hashtag #BaconBuddiesIowa to showcase your event on social media
    • Consider social media, print, radio, television
  • Media requests
    • Before, day of, during, and after event


Checklist and things to consider:

  • Participant awards (ribbons for all Buddies)
  • T-shirts
  • Photo backdrop
  • Meal/refreshments/snacks


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