Special to the Review
The Athens Review
BEN WHEELER – Each year, Ben Wheeler Arts & Historic District Foundation hosts the Fall Feral Hog Festival, World Championship Wild Hog Cook-Off, Fall Feral Follies and Hog Queen Coronation.
This year, it takes place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26, themed High on the Hog.
Since 2008, the non-profit, 501c(3) organization has been putting on the Fall Feral Hog Festival, which includes a morning parade, an afternoon cook-off and a follies show the night prior to the festival.
During the Friday Fall Feral Follies at Moore’s Store Restaurant and Live Music Venue, located at 1551 Farm-to-Market 279, in Ben Wheeler, Hog Queen contestants compete for the crown. This is a chance to reign as the official Fall Feral Hog Festival Queen for a year.
The queen represents the prospering town of Ben Wheeler throughout the year during all of its main events.
This year, the Fall Feral Follies is set for Friday, Oct. 25, 8 p.m., with the band, Eleven Hundred Springs, taking the Moore’s Store stage. There is a $15 cover charge, or $10 advance tickets can be purchased through Outhousetickets.com.
The parade, festival and cook-off take place Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with live music on the Pickin’ Porch on downtown festival grounds by Ben Lowery and Texas Express, Texas Roundup and blacktop GYPSY.
Bill Bragg will lead this year’s Fall Feral Hog Festival parade. He is following in the footsteps of prior grand marshals including KLUV radio personality Jody Dean and East Texas news anchors Bob Brackeen and Kaci Koviak of KETK NBC in Tyler, just to name a few.
As part of Bragg’s illustrious past, he served as the voice of the beloved Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas for more than a decade.
An array of fun, pig-themed floats from area businesses and other friends of Ben Wheeler will keep the parade rolling along its FM 279 route, to start off the Saturday fun. The Saturday festival is free.
The Forge Annex, the outdoor venue behind The Forge Bistro, in downtown Ben Wheeler, will also host a full, live-music lineup starting at 3 p.m., and ends with fan-favorites, Jeff Allen Band at 9:30 p.m. There is a $10 cover. A full music lineup is available on benwheelertx.com.
Moore’s Store also closes Hog Festival fun Saturday night with great music featuring the Dallas-based Zydeco Stingrays at 8 p.m. There is a $10 cover.
On festival grounds, guests will find an array of fun for the family, including hog-fan-favorites: a catch-a-pig contest; and a hog-calling contest.
For those who love to shop, there will be a variety of vendors selling one-of-a-kind wares, and enough food vendors to keep stomachs full all day long.
The World Championship Wild Hog Cook-Off will be underway during the festival with cook-off contestants competing for a chance to reign as the supreme smoker king of wild-hog meat.
The feral hog theme of Ben Wheeler’s weekend festival is meant to poke fun at the continually, ever-expanding, statewide population of wild hogs. Brooks Gremmels has said since the beginning of the Festival in 2008 that, “We’re just making lemonade out of lemons.”
Feral (wild) hogs are a large problem in Van Zandt County and much of Texas, and North America. Additionally, the omnivores eat plants and other animals, and are a multi-million-dollar problem, because they can disrupt both livestock and farming operations by damaging facilities and fences, and trampling and eating crops.
For those wanting to participate in Hog Fest 2013 as a Hog Queen Contestant, Vendor, Parade Participant or Cook Off Contestant, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for an application and/or download the forms from benwheelertx.com. Just click on the Hog Fest tab of the homepage.
Ben Wheeler Arts & Historic District Foundation is also welcoming sponsors for this year’s event. If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring Hog Fest 2013, please contact email@example.com.
For more general Hog Fest information, call 903-833-1070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.