Festival Style Fit for the Pigs

We interrupt the Journey of a Thousand Dresses to bring you a tale about happy pigs and happy kids, along with a summer outfit the pigs just loved. 😄 I’ll be back with the dress series soon! 

When I do a search for vintage goodies online, I often come across the tag word “Coachella.” This is a marketing descriptor used to suggest it’s a style fit for music festivals, like Coachella in Indio, California, where the boho-hippie esthetic is worn by the next generation.

Growing up in between the eras of Woodstock and Lalapalooza, I never went to summer music festivals, but I do appreciate the styles that came out of both of these eras. They’re the styles that inform the “Coachella look” today.

The festivals I remember from my youth were small-town fests that celebrated a community and the bounty of summer, like the Watermelon Festival in the little town of Rush Springs, Oklahoma.

Watermelons and rodeo go hand-in-hand in Rush Springs.

Almost every summer my siblings and I spent weeks just outside of Rush Springs living the life of country kids with my grandparents who owned 20 acres of land there. We only went to the Watermelon Festival once that I can remember. But with Grandma and Grandpa, we had our own brand of festivities.

Grandpa was the headliner for this family-fest and Grandma was the taskmaster. They combined the two specialties by having us snap beans for supper in the shade under a tree while Grandpa told jokes. He must have told the same joke a thousand times whenever we visited, but we never got tired of them.

Grandpa: How do you spell “Mississippi”?
Me: M-i-s-s….
Grandpa: No. That’s all wrong.
Me: Then how do you spell “Mississippi”?
Grandpa: M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-
crooked letter-crooked letter-I-hump back hump back-I
Me: Oh, Grandpa!

Here’s my grandfather with “a belly full of apples.”

The attire for this “festival” was about as casual as a person could get. Clothespin hats were all the rage one year, but they weren’t very practical if you really wanted the hat to say on your head.

My grandparents moved from Rush Springs when I was in college. Grandpa’s heart couldn’t take the work required for tending land. He passed away several years ago and Grandma now lives in Texas near my uncle. Summers no longer mean family festivals in the country, but I still try to experience it in different ways every chance I get.

Pig’s Peace Sanctuary — A Festival of Love

A couple of weeks ago Hubby and I took the opportunity to travel a couple hours north of Seattle to Stanwood, Washington for a tour of Pig’s Peace Sanctuary. It’s a place of love and tranquility for hundreds of pigs on 39 acres of land. If the pigs could talk, they’d tell horrific stories about their lives before the sanctuary, but at Pig’s Peace, they are able to heal–literally and spiritually–and live the rest of their lives in pig bliss. As Judy, the founder of the organization, says on the website:

It is the love here that flourishes. The animals feel it the moment they arrive and everyday. I am so grateful to do this work. Look in the eyes of the animals and you will see it. Look in the hopeful faces of the children and other visitors and you will see it. Come visit us and you will know the peace.

Judy of Pig's Peace Sanctuary with Curly the Pig.
Judy of Pig’s Peace Sanctuary hanging out with Curly the Pig. Photo from the sanctuary’s website.

She’s right. Hubby and I didn’t want to leave after our visit. It is a festival of love and who wants to walk away from that?

The video below is just a snippet from the time we were there. If you watch the video, you’ll see bananas flying in the air and pigs hunting them like Easter eggs. We were given the opportunity to throw a wheelbarrow’s worth of bananas as an afternoon treat. Judy told us we couldn’t feed them by hand because it creates an expectation that human hands are for treats and she doesn’t want the pigs to associate hands with food.

Here’s Hubby throwing a banana out to the field of pigs:

Throwing bananas to pigs at Pigs Peace Sanctuary

Dressing for Pigs

It may come as some surprise, but pigs don’t really care what a person wears to their “festival.” Pigs have other things to think about, like where the banana landed and which bed of grass is comfy enough to sleep in.

It was a beautiful, sunny day when we visited, so I chose a strappy cotton cami-style top with pink “spirograph” circles embroidered in a pattern all over it. The top is from the Milly Collection at Banana Republic. I bought it secondhand on eBay.

Similar styles on eBay here.

summer sleeveless shirt with cropped jeans and white sneakers for visiting pig's peace sanctuary

Because I had never been to the sanctuary before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would we be staying on the sidelines to see the pigs? Or would we traipse through hay, mulch, and dirt to get up close and personal? It ended up being a combination of both.

We went into a side barn to rub the belly of a pig named Pickle. She loves belly scratches and snorted in protest when we got up to leave. We also said hello to two senior pigs who slept under the cover of shade. They wiggled their noses to sniff at visitors and opened one eye each to say hello back.

Senior pigs sleeping in the shade at Pig's Peace Sanctuary.

From the sidelines we threw the bananas into the field and we reached our hands over a fence to give some love to Honey–my favorite pig of all. Her back legs are paralyzed but that girl is so happy. Unlike some pigs who can’t move their back legs, she has no hot spots or bed sores. She gets around with her front legs only and managed to hunt for bananas too. She’s so beautiful. Just look how she smiles as visitors share love through touch.

Honey the Pig at Pig's Peace Sanctuary in Stanwood, Washington.

Not knowing how rough-and-tumble we’d get there, I opted for cropped jeans. They’re tough enough to keep out prickly weeds and grasses but a little cooler than long jeans–and definitely cooler than the double-knit polyester Grandma used to make us wear to go berry picking!

I bought my jeans at Nordstrom a couple of years ago.
They’re still available at Nordstrom here.
If you want them secondhand, you can do an eBay search here.

Summery cami top with cropped jeans and white sneakers

The white sneakers probably weren’t the best choice for wandering around a farm, but they are lighter weight than other closed-toed shoes and, because they’re fabric, I wash them in the washing machine when they get dirty.

They are another Nordstrom purchase from a while back.
Similar styles here.

By the time we left the farm, the shade was starting to feel cool. In Washington, temperatures can be chilly in the mornings and evenings. Plus, I’m never sure if the air-conditioning will be freezing indoors. So I carry a layering piece wherever I go. On this day, I brought along an embroidered denim jacket I bought on Thredup last year.

Find your own embroidered denim jacket here on eBay.
Or search for iron-on patches on Etsy and make your own!

embroidered denim jacket with cotton cami and cropped jeans and white sneakers

embroidered denim jacket

Festivals are not generally my cup of tea, in part because I’m not big into crowds. But I do value the idea that a festival can be a place to feel free and easy, to taste joy, and to touch, however briefly, that deep kind of happiness that is like internal sunshine. That’s how I always felt at Grandma and Grandpa’s place, anyway, and it’s also the feeling I had at Pig’s Peace Sanctuary. Thank goodness for places like that.

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  • If I didn’t know better, I would think that you are like a Doctor Doolittle!! First the goat yoga and now the pig festival!!!
    You find the funnest things to do, Sherry!!
    And what a great sanctuary to visit!!
    I love your embroidered jacket—it’s the perfect piece for the cooler times and A/C….and you look super cool in it too!!

  • This made me cry! Yes…I am such a sucker I cannot even read stuff like this without getting emotional. Animals and animal sanctuaries do that to me. It’s ridiculous.

    I love what you chose to wear. And that embroidered jacket is SWEEET!

    You guys find the best things to do.


    • I’m a sucker too, Suzanne! The good news is there are people like you in the world who actually do care. It helps to balance out the ones that don’t.


  • Its wonderful that you were able to evoke those childhood memories and the joy that was a part of spending summers with your grandparents. I’ve never had the opportunity to hangout and feel the vibes of a biv ol pig. Because of their superior intelligence I’ve always been intrigued by them. Like Suzanne I can be quite swept up in the emotions of animal welfare.
    You are just beautiful in these photos Sherry. You carry your heart in your eyes and it turns photos of you into something very special. I’m in love with the embroidered jean jacket! Thankyou for sharing some of your personal ” joys of summer” past and present!

    • Hi Jude! My apologies in how long it’s taken me to respond to this comment. I always look forward to hearing from you and am grateful (as always!) for what you have to say.

      It can be traumatizing to spend time hearing the stories of animals that have been abused and mistreated. Some of the stories we heard on the day of this experience were the worst I’ve ever heard. To think what they have endured before coming to the sanctuary is beyond thinkable, really. I am grateful to people like Judy who have dedicated to helping these creatures heal, physically and emotionally. As you said, pigs are so intelligent. They remember what was done to them but they also have the capacity for healing as we do. May all creatures (humans included) who experience abuse and hatred know the love of someone like Judy.

      I hope you are well, my friend, and I look forward to seeing you in October!