“The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (19th Century American Poet)
As with any major event that impacts a community, The Labadie Pig Gig began its ascent into the conduits and consciousness of our area 19 years ago as a means to showcase world class rib competitors while raising serious levels of money for local charities.
This year 2011 Labadie Pig Gig presented by State Farm is set to kick off August 4th – August 7th in Veteran’s Memorial Park in Bay City. Additionally, Covenant Health Care and J.P. O’Sullivan Distributing have joined with Labadie & State Farm Insurance and other key local sponsors to make sure that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bay County and other area charities will have a strong weekend of fundraising.
As in past years, this Championship Rib Cook-Off is the setting for national competitors vying for the title of ‘The Best in The Midwest’ and welcomes rib champions both locally, around the country and even around the world, including the Aussom Aussie from Sydney, Australia. New competitors this year include Big Show BBQ, from Kansas City, MO and Great Lakes BBQ & Feed Co. from Cedar Springs, Mi.
According to Wendy Dore, pivotal organizer behind the Pig Gig involved since its beginnings, what began 19 years ago as a relatively low-key ‘infant’ in the lexicon of summertime events in the area, has since evolved and grown to the extent that it has raised approximately $900,000 since its inception – decidedly a remarkable feat, especially in challenging economic times. “We would love to hit the $1,000,000 mark someday soon,” exclaims Wendy.
In terms of how the Labadie Pig Gig ranks nationally with similar events, Wendy notes how it is essentially the Midwest Championship Rib Cook off. “We have competitors that strive to win this prestigious award and are proud to have many new rib competitors always trying to get into this event. It is one of the larger Rib Fests in the nation.”
When asked if there will be any new festival highlights this year and what features about the festival ring most popular in with the general public, Wendy explains that “Although it may not be new, the aspect of this festival that sets it apart is that it is still only $5.00 in advance and the pricing has not risen. In this day and age with gas prices and the cost of traveling, our Great Lakes Bay Region residents can attend a World Class Festival for only $5.00, which includes national concerts each evening!”
“Over 40 various charities in the last 19 years and hundreds, or possibly thousands, of people have benefited through the many charitable organizations that impact our Great Lakes Bay region.”
A partial list of charities benefiting from this remarkable event include Boys & Girls Clubs of Bay County, The Literacy Council, CORY Place, The Johnny Burke Children’s Foundation, Bay Area Women’s Center, Area 9 Special Olympics and Studio 23.
When asked to look back at the evolution of the Pig Gig over the years, are there specific highlights that stand out in Wendy’s mind that for her epitomize the significance of this event as a means of pulling communities together?
“First and foremost, it’s the warm family reunion type atmosphere that I feel every year is probably the easiest way to describe it,” reflects Wendy. “People comment to me how they see friends, neighbors, church members, old high school classmates, past co-workers, so in many ways this event functions like a large ‘community reunion’l”
As for the most challenging component involved with bringing a festival of this magnitude together, Wendy cites the ability to offer a great weekend of national entertainment, food and family fun, while keeping the pricing at $5.00. “This challenge is overcome by the great sponsors that step forward to keep this fun and affordable,” she notes. “The Labadie Family has been instrumental in helping to pay the costs of the event, along with State Farm, Covenant Health Care, John P. O’Sullivan and Meijer, the many local sponsors that contribute are the reasons that families have this festival here in Bay City.”
While the Pig Gig is certainly focused upon satiating one’s appetite for a divergent range of fine barbecued ribs, another key component of its success and impact is centered upon the wide range of innovative family activities that it provides and develops, coupled with world-class live musical entertainment.
As for the entertainment lineup, the excitement begins on Thursday, Aug. 4th with Rumors, a Fleetwood Mac Tribute band, which gives fans of such classic songs as Rhiannon and Go Your Own Way one of the few chances to hear them performed live and in a faithful manner to the originals.
On Friday, Aug. 5th, Country Music star Phil Vassar will take to the stage, with nine Top 10 hits that include Just Another Day in Paradise, Love is a Beautiful Thing, and Carlene; while on Saturday, Aug. 6th new rock will be showcased with Saving Abel, who’s hits include 18 Days, Addicted, Drowning, and many more.
Closing out the live performances will be the incomparable Southern Rock Legends, Georgia Satellites, with a string of hits that include Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Hippy Hippy Shake, and Don’t Pass Me By. All performances are at 7:11 PM, with the exception of Saturday, which features shows at 6:00 & 7:11 PM and Sunday, with performances at 4:30 & 7:11 PM.
Saganing Eagles Landing Casino and Soaring Eagle Casino will again provide a covered area to meet and greet the entertainment and get an autograph. Plus they will be hosting some fun games for everyone to win and this year they will also provide a booth during the daytime activities.
The Catholic Federal Credit Union 5K Race will be held on Saturday, August 6th as part of the event. It is a true test of commitment, not only to finish the race but to the charities as well. The event is open to all runners and walkers. The Catholic Federal race is also part of the Element Series. The race begins at Vets Park and travels over both bridges to return to the Labadie Pig Gig festival grounds at Vet’s Park. It’s a great place to show your speed, endurance, and your support of our local charities. You can log on to www.cathfcu.com for more information.
Great Lakes Harley Davidson will once again sponsor the Teddy Bear Run to Covenant Health Care. New stuffed animal or teddy bear donations can be dropped off at Great Lakes Harley Davidson on M-13 in Bay City. These teddy bears and animals will be strapped on the motorcycles of a caring group of riders that will take them from Great Lakes Harley to Covenant HealthCare’s Pediatric Center. Having a warm cuddly stuffed animal greet a sick or injured child is always a comfort; plus after the riders leave Covenant HealthCare they will ride back to the Labadie Pig Gig and park in Hog Heaven…. a special parking area for motorcycles.
The Labadie Pig Gig will also again this year host a “Celebrity Rib Challenge” in which local media personalities compete against each other with their own “secret recipe” to win “The Best Celebrity Ribs” (an honor this writer was proud to have received five years ago!)
Proceeds generated during this competition will be donated to worthwhile charities in the area. The general public can try the ribs specially prepared by their favorite local celebrity and vote for their favorite. The first 100 people voting will receive a special goody bag compliments of The Bay City Mall.
With advance tickets at only $5.00, two additional things are being done to keep prices affordable for families. Kids 12 and Under are Free and advance discount Half Price tickets are available through August 2nd. After that date, daily admission at the gate will be only $10.00 with weekend passes available for $18.00.
Tickets are on sale at both Labadie locations, participating State Farm agencies and on-line at labadieauto.com.”
For more information, please log on to www.piggig.com.
16th November, 2023