PHOENIX -- The Arizona State Fair opened Oct. 12 with rides, exhibits, deep-fried everything and Zack and Mack, "America's favorite two-headed wonder!"
Then there's Harley, "A giant pig bigger than any pig you will ever see!"
Nearby are Big Al, an alligator measuring 14 feet and weighing more than 1,000 pounds, and Hercules the giant horse, both shielded from the concourse.
Standard admission gets you onto the fairgrounds. An extra dollar will give you a peek at one of the above.
Many stand and gawk at signs such suggesting wonders within, for example, "Could this be the smallest horse?"
But Andrea Williams of Holbrook took the plunge, dropping $1 to take a look behind the curtain at Big Al. She came away disappointed, wondering if what she saw really was an alligator.
"You can't tell if it's real or not, because it's not moving," she said.
Tom Beimborn, owner of Outdoor Exhibits, says Big Al is indeed real. So are the big pig, the huge horse and the tiny horse, each of them his exhibits.
"People aren't going to see giant animals anywhere else," said Beimborn, a former USDA meat inspector who has worked the fair circuit for 22 years.
"How many alligators do you see in Arizona?"
Beimborn said he got the idea when he realized how big a steer can get.
"I thought of the possibility of charging 25 cents for people to come see giant animals," Beimborn said. "I placed in my two weeks' notice. Then I got a big horse, then a big alligator, and it went on."
Hercules is a Belgian horse weighing 3,000 pounds and standing 6-foot-6. He contrasts with Tiny Tim, a horse just 22 inches tall.
Abel Bahe, visiting from Gallup, N.M., anticipated something much smaller for the dollar he spent on Tiny Tim.
"I expect it to be a really small horse -- maybe five inches," Bahe said.
But Laura Davis of Scottsdale thought a dollar to see Hercules was a good deal.
"It's the biggest horse I've ever seen and its butt is bam!" she said. "It's right there, as soon as you walk in."
Angel Cabrera of Phoenix felt much the same way after investing in a viewing of Harley the pig.
"This is the first time ever seeing a pig that big," Cabrera said. "It looks like it's on steroids."
Cabrera had the option of spending another dollar to see "White Mountain," a 3,000-pound steer promoted as "10,000 hamburgers on the hoof alive."
Across the fairgrounds were Zack and Mack, billed as "Two heads, one body, all heart -- ALIVE."
At the entrance, a man who identified himself only as "Professor Reid" assured a curious passerby, "About five out of 10 million are born with two heads. But only one stays alive."
After taking a look, Cronkite News Service can confirm that the exhibit does offer a view of two heads and one body.
But what is it?
That will cost you a dollar.
Web Link: Arizona State Fair: www.azstatefair.com