Murfreesboro swine makes the pigtime as new Wilbur

A Blackman community pig is destined for stardom after a photo shoot Tuesday to promote an upcoming reprint of E.B. White’s classic children’s book “Charlotte’s Web.”

Unfortunately, this Wilbur may go to market before he ever discovers his newfound fame.

Brett Saylor from HarperCollins Publishing Co. in New York City contacted Phyllis Ferguson of the Tennessee Pork Producers Association earlier this month about finding a pig to use in promotional photos for the new edition of the family favorite about a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur.

Ferguson knew exactly whom to refer them to. Blackman’s John L. Batey, a vice president of the Pork Producers Association, has been farming for more than 50 years, this year raising corn, soybeans and 300 pigs.

HarperCollins sent Music City photographer Mark Tucker to the Batey farm to take photos. The photographer and several assistants were on hand Tuesday morning to primp and pose the 6- and 7-week-old piglets.

Tucker used five young porkers in the four-hour photo shoot in Batey’s cornfield.

“We are honored,” the 63-year-old farmer said.

This was not the first time one of his porkers had been in the spotlight. “We had one in a Tennessee Lottery video with Isaac Hayes last year,” he said. “(The pig) had his own studio dressing room. They picked him up in a limo and brought him back in one.”

Wilbur may never know when he becomes a star. Within a year, he’ll head to market, Batey said.


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