Charlotte's Web

July 27 2006
in looking for a place for a friend from PA to live nearby, i stumbled across this article.

this neighboorhood is connected to mine, so i'm gonna try and get my pic w/ a pig on satruday

Smile, Wilbur
Farmer schedules photo op with popular porker

The popularity of Wilbur the piglet has reached new heights, so
much so that Wibur's first public appearance has been set for next week.

have gotten so many people coming out for Wilbur we are going to have a
picture-taking with Wilbur on July 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Jamison
Downs subdivision," said John L. Batey. a Blackman community swine
farmer and the owner of the little porker.


One of 300 pigs on Batey's farm, the piglet was chosen to adorn the
front cover of a new release of E. B. White's children's book,
"Charlotte's Web." The story features a young pig, Wilbur, who is
befriended by a spider, Charlotte.

The news was accompanied at the time by a comment from Batey that Wilbur may never know of his fame.

"Within a year, he'll head to market," Batey said in a Daily News Journal story last month.

those ominous words hit the streets, Melissa Batey, John's wife, let
her husband know he could become the "bad farmer" if Wilbur became ham,
barbecue or bacon. Calls came from Boston, New York and even Canada
asking about the piglet and its fate.

In response, John L. and
Melissa Batey decided to not only spare the piglet from the butcher's
blade but to raise it as a pet. That led to a national article for
Wilbur in USA Today on July 3, and then to an NBC "Today" Show
appearance by Wilbur and the Bateys on July 10.

Since then folks
have brought children or grandchildren to the Batey farm to have their
picture taken with Wilbur, who has his own pen and pig house.

"Most people call before they come," said Melissa Batey.

vacationing Texas woman got directions to the Batey's home from a
Nashville hotel and just appeared in the driveway, asking "Is this the
home of Wilbur?"

"She's a fourth-grade teacher," said Melissa
Batey. "Teachers in the fourth grade read chapter books like
'Charlotte's Web.' She wanted to have her picture taken with Wilbur."

Batey said they have had a lot of requests from people to have their
children or grandchildren's picture taken with Wilbur.

To meet
the demand, the a photo session with Wilbur has been scheduled for July
29 at Jamison Downs Subdivision Blackman Road, 1.4 miles on the left
from Blackman store and the four-way stop sign. Wilbur will be under a
tent at the fourth or fifth house on the left on Jamison Downs Street,
Batey said.

"We are going to have a photographer there to take a
photo with Wilbur," said John L. Batey. "We will have (Wilbur) in a
small elevated pen."

The professional photos will be developed at
no charge while families are on site. Popcorn and snow cones will also
be given away. Families can also bring their own cameras.

Durham Realty and Auction Co. representatives will be on hand to show homes and lots that are for sale in Batey's subdivision.

In the meantime, John L. Batey said he is spending more time with Wilbur.

am trying to make him more friendly with me," the farmer said. "He is
walking with me (on a leash) out to get a newspaper. He even rides in
the truck on a seat with me now."

John L. Batey even took Wilbur to a nearby rock quarry to show him off.

"I told (John), 'If you're not careful people will be calling you pig man,'" Melissa Batey said.

But she is happy for her husband to take on the chore of socializing the squealing piglet.

"I think Wilbur needs one master, and that's John," she said.

— Doug Davis, 278-5152

Originally published July 21, 2006