Straight out of a children’s book, local animal sanctuary hosts a pig wedding to remember

Straight out of a children's book, local animal sanctuary hosts a pig wedding to remember

Oct. 9—SULLIVAN — Over a hundred community members gathered together for a ceremony Saturday to celebrate the work of a local nonprofit and witness bride and groom take each others’ hoofs in marriage.

After trotting down the aisle from out of a barn at Amazing Grace Animal Sanctuary, newlywed pigs Gronk and Henrietta took their vows over pig feed as children, families and animal rescue volunteers looked on.

“I’ve been counting down the days since I heard about this,” said Chelsea Cummings, 9, of Marlborough. “It’s my first pig wedding.”

The wedding was the culmination of months of preparation at the sanctuary following the publication of a children’s book that fictionalized the couple and the event. Amazing Grace owner Donna Watterson said Henrietta was “a bit of a bridezilla” getting into her dress before the procession, but otherwise the event was a hog wild good time for the newly married and attendees.

She said Amazing Grace board member Cathy LaMontagne in particular put a lot of effort into organizing the event.

“We’ve been talking about if for a year, going back and forth on what we want it to be,” Watterson said. “Cathy really grabbed it in the last four months … and even last night she was thinking of last-minute things to run and get.”

The children’s book, titled “Pig Tails of Gronk and Henrietta,” was written by retired schoolteacher and friend of the sanctuary, Peggy Rydberg, of Jupiter, Fla., and illustrated by her friend Candace Story.

Rydberg, a native of Long Island, N.Y., became acquainted with Watterson while a freshman at Keene State College in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in physical education. Rydberg said the two have remained lifelong friends over their shared love of animals and that she’s involved in Florida with a turtle hospital and a ranch for large-size rescue dogs.

“When [Watterson] told me that Gronk and Henrietta were starting to get along, because at first they didn’t get along so well, she said, ‘I think we need to have a wedding for them,’ ” Rydberg said. “I thought that sounded like a children’s book.”

And soon enough that fairy tale, seemingly destined to just the pages of Ryberg’s book, would became a reality after Saturday’s ceremony at noon, with the two swine in appropriate attire — Gronk clothed in a faux tuxedo outfit and Henrietta in a tutu. Dave Sutherland, marketing manager for Monadnock Broadcasting Group in Keene, served as the officiant of the wedding and guided the ceremony along.

“I am told that the wedding couple had a great dinner last night of watermelon and Skittles that was followed up by ice pops,” Sutherland said to guests ahead of the procession. “This is probably going to be the most famous wedding since Porky Pig.”

Sutherland was the justice of the peace for a marriage license Watterson and her husband Daryl signed off on as Henrietta’s “parents,” while area children Emily Chapman and Finley DuBois were respectively the flower girl and ring bearer. Ollie Gillard was best man, and dogs Yogi and Bailey were groomsmen.

Gronk arrived at Amazing Grace about three years ago from a family in Guilford who couldn’t take care of him as he grew older, while Henrietta was given to the farm four years ago by someone who rescued her from a pet pig farm, according to Watterson. She was set to be euthanized at the farm after being born with a damaged hoof.

“Gronk was an indoor pig at first, and then he got naughty in the house eating all the candy, so he came out here to meet Henrietta,” Watterson said. “She had to teach him about mud baths and how to be a pig.”

There was a reception beginning at about 12:30 p.m. after the official ceremony, where guests were treated to food catered by Jake’s 5 Star Convenience and Deli in Keene, whose Sandy Lydon crafted a three-tiered wedding cake featuring miniatures of the pigs. She said the cake took about four days to create but chalked it up part of her role as an established volunteer of the sanctuary.

The two pigs were expected to retire to a honeymoon suite in the barn at Amazing Grace later Saturday evening. The suite featured a pig-scale prepared dinner table along with celebratory decorations and two suitcases for the pigs’ upcoming plans.

Soon, Watterson said they’ll be taking a real honeymoon at Pig Beach in the Exuma Cays of the Bahamas, where about nonnative 20 pigs reside swimming their days away, according to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism’s website. She said she wasn’t invited but hoped the two enjoyed their stay and that she hoped to use donations to the sanctuary to help finance the trip.

“Henrietta kind of went crazy on her wedding, so Gronk said they needed a few funds to cover the trip,” Watterson said. “They’re going to go see family and grow up a little to be on their own.”

Trisha Nail can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or Follow her on Twitter at @byTrishaNail.

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Straight out of a children’s book, local animal sanctuary hosts a pig wedding to remember

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