Originally created 01/19/01

Hog calling lands family on TV



BATH - They aren't your ordinary trophies, but the family members who won them aren't ordinary, either.

If they were, the Campbells wouldn't be calling hogs for family fun, and they definitely wouldn't be doing it on national television for comedian Jay Leno. But that's exactly what they'll do, on a night not yet decided.

They virtually sealed their appearance with a tape made in their living room on Russell Drive, snorting and carrying on as if a pack of wild hogs needed coaxing from behind the couch.

The show's producers haven't determined how long the public can wait to know how some folks spend their evenings together.

Producers haven't told the Campbells when they'll go to California but Angela Campbell says it will be soon.

Since the day someone from The Tonight Show With Jay Leno invited the family for a TV appearance, the Campbells have practiced together in the living room. Their philosophy is: "A family who lives together calls hogs together."

As the country song says, "it's a family tradition" that started with father Darrell. Then Mrs. Campbell joined in. Then Carvie and Candis, two of the four Campbell children.

Seventeen-year-old Carvie is the one to beat at the town of Salley's hog-calling contest, held each year during a festival to honor the humble hog intestine, the Chitlin Strut. He has won the trophy every year since 1997, beating his father, the former recurring champion. Both get plenty of practice hunting wild boars in Gum Swamp at Savannah River Site.

They also practice on Julie, the family's 200-pound potbellied pig, who eats seven loaves of bread a week, washed down with Kool-Aid, and spongecake for dessert.

So far, hollering for hogs has brought home 13 trophies, but not any bacon.

"Maybe I'll get a Hardee's commercial out of this or something," said Carvie, who figures he can out call the actor who promotes the fast-food chain's pork chop sandwich. "Who knew we'd be famous for calling hogs? It's hilarious."

So hilarious that none of Carvie's teachers takes him seriously when he says he'll soon be on Jay Leno. He says they also don't believe he actually eats chitlins.

"If you're going to sound like a hog, you've got to eat hog," he said.

Salley's the place to do it. The first "Gut Strut" came in 1966. And people actually paid to eat chitlins so the town with only one red light could buy new Christmas decorations for a main street that stretches less than six blocks. Now the locals cook up to 10,000 pounds of hog intestines a year in a building constructed just for that purpose.

On the weekend before Thanksgiving, the town that time seems sometimes to have forgotten attracts 80,000 or more people to the uncontested "Chitlin' Capital of the World." South Carolina's U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, 98, considers the Chitlin Strut one of his favorite festivals, and he got it included in the archives of the Library of Congress. Southern Living and Newsweek also have written about it. And a few paragraphs about the Strut are in the World Book Encyclopedia.

But Tonight Show producers found out about it the easy way. They just decided a hog caller would be a fun guest and plugged the term into the Internet.

Up popped Carvie's most recent win.

Reach Chasiti Kirkland at (803) 279-6895.