By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s one of Baltimore’s most popular fall events, drawing thousands of people to Washington Boulevard each year.

But this year, something will be missing from the Pigtown Festival.

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Ben Hyman, executive director of the Pigtown Main Street organization, tells WJZ the swine flu is sidelining the animals that typically compete in the Pigtown Festival’s most popular event, the pig races.

“The Maryland State Veterinarian said, due to the swine flu outbreak… ‘no pig races, we want to keep everybody safe,’ and certainly that’s our top priority too,” Hyman said.

There were outbreaks of swine flu at fairs in several Maryland counties this summer, including Frederick and Charles, so Washington Boulevard will be a no pig zone.

Big crowds are still expected at the beloved neighborhood events, though.

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And according to Hyman, there will still be plenty to do.

“It’s live music, it’s a great big kids zone, local beer, local food, 60+ vendors, just a great time for everybody,” he says. “Our top priority is keeping our festival goers and our residents safe so, we just, when we got that notice we wanted to make sure that we had a really family-friendly and safe environment here at the Pigtown Festival.”

Health officials say swine flu is not a threat to humans unless there’s close contact with the pigs.

Saturday’s Pigtown Festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. and it’s free.

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