Things were so slow at the Bull Run Country Jamboree Saturday that Little Mac didn't even get up for the pig-calling contest.
And he was the pig.
It was so slow, two frogs succumbed and they had to cancel the frog-jumping contest.
"We were shoveling crickets to them, 80 crickets a day, but it didn't make them any bigger," said chief naturalist Earl Hodnett.
It was so slow they didn't even have the greased-pole contest or the hairiest and smoothest legs contests, and the 8,000 somnolent country music fans drowsed through the watermelon seed-spitting and other highlights.
Whatever the reason, the audience was subdued, "almost sedated," according to Fairfax police Major Kelly Coffelt. The action picked up in the afternoon. Coolers of beer and thermoses of unidentified liquids were in evidence all over the field, and police officers made about 10 arrests, most for being drunk and disorderly, Coffelt said.
"This is the worst-run Bull Run I've ever been to," said Paul Amico of Vienna, one of the spectators. "There's no one big here."
He gestured to country music singer Sylvia, who was trying with limited success to get the crowd to sing "Nobody."
"That's how they're treating her, like nobody," he said.
Not everybody was quite as down on the day as Amico.
The crowd cheered and whistled for country star Eddie Rabbitt's "I Love a Rainy Night," having escaped a forecast of rainy days for this eighth affair at Bull Run Regional Park near Centreville.
But the cloudy sky still took its toll. Attendance sagged from 14,000 last year.
Still, there were bright spots. John Danahue of Fredericksburg said he was proud of the prowess of his friend John Widener in the corn-cob eating. "He ate his in 13 seconds. There was no cob left, either. We counted his fingers -- he still had 10. We were impressed."
The problem with Little Mac, a pink pig with a muddy nose, appeared similar to that of many in the audience.
"It got drunk. They fed it Coors," said Ina Richey, 13, of Alexandria, who won the contest despite the insistently recumbent pig.
Despite the park rule forbidding alcohol, Little Mac did indeed indulge. "He'll drink two cartons in one sitting," said the pig's owner, George Holloway of Jarratt, Va. "If he gets his eye on me he'll come because he thinks I got him another brew."
Nearby, about 20 people gathered for the sack-race finals. "This is the moment everyone's been waiting for," cried the emcee with some exaggeration. "On your mark, get set, go!"
Al Gray of Warrenton finished first, and the emcee said, "Sack-racing champion of the world!"
The 13-year-old sat down to put his sneakers back on. "I wish," he muttered quietly.
Keith MacDonald, a disc jockey with country station WMZQ, a cosponsor of the event with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, tried desperately to draw people to the watermelon seed-spitting contest. "Just think of all the starving people in the world, and you have free watermelon and you're walking right by it," he called out to uninterested passers-by.
It was clearly music over melons, for the crowd. In preparation for Earl Thomas Conley and other singers, Darlene Simons of Louisiana took the beach towel-sized Confederate flag down from her pickup truck and tied it to a waveable 12-foot tomato pole for the occasion. She said she liked "everything" about country music. "It's got a meaning to it."
When they weren't listening to music, or avoiding contests, many fans stood in line for the stars' autographs. "Spitting the seeds -- I think that's really gross," said Onalee Richards. She and her friend Debbie McCarthy of Riverdale, both diehard country fans, didn't care if it rained. They sported bathing suits as they stood in line for T.G. Sheppard's autograph.
Sylvia lover Neal Nachman of Herndon, who has "hundreds" of the singer's photos and all four of her albums, and who has lost count of the number of times he has seen her perform, and who has sent her roses and letters, and would like to marry her even though he's just 14 and she's already married, stood in line once more for Sylvia's autograph.
"It's a way to get to talk to her, I guess," he said.