Hog Caller

Doris Probst shows off her hog-calling skill that earned her the championship state fair title and first woman winner.

Doris Probst was just minding her own business Sunday afternoon at the Illinois State Fair when she passed organizers of the annual Husband and Hog Calling Contest.

“They said they needed people,” the Bishop Creek-area resident said. “When I first got there, there weren’t many people sitting in the audience, but by the time I started, there was a bunch more.”

Probst, who grew up on a hog farm in the Island Grove area, hadn’t called hogs for nearly 25 years, but she showed she hadn’t lost her touch Sunday, defeating seven other competitors to become the first-ever woman to win the competition. The win sparked mention on regional and national television, including the Fox television station in Springfield, ESPN and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Probst said it was nothing more than a spur-of-the-moment decision to enter the competition.

“I’d never done this before. I’d sooey the pigs at home, but I’ve been married to a dairy farmer for 24 years,” she said.

Probst and her family were in Springfield to work at the Prairie Farms booth.

She said she didn’t have time to think about strategy.

“There was no strategy,” she said. “When more people started looking at me, I just added as I went.”

Defending champion Nathan Broaddus did his routine before Probst. She said that helped her determine how long to call.

“I figured I could go as long as he did,” she said.

Probst said the win was a shocker.

“I didn’t believe I would ever win,” she said. “I was amazed.”

She has mixed feelings about the publicity.

“I don’t know if I want to be known as the hog-calling champion,” she said.

But it’s clear she is, for now anyway.

Probst said she plans to defend her title at the 2009 state fair. This time, husband Roy and their four kids plan to attend.

“They were all working in the booth this year,” she said.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 131 or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.

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