“Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven, and hell a fable.”
Charles Caleb Colton
Some ideas have a knack for catching on. And since its inception 20 years ago, the Labadie Pig Gig has grown to become one of the most successful summer events in Michigan, drawing professional rib competitors from Michigan, Ohio, Carolina, and as far across the world as Australia together, along with some of the biggest names in musical entertainment, while managing to raise approximately $960,000 for local charities in the process.
If we rewind the hands of time back 20 years to obtain a sense of place and context, Bill Clinton first became President of the United States, the North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified by Congress, Jurassic Park was the summer's top grossing film, Sinead O'Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, Cheers ended its 11-year run on TV, Whitney Houston spent most of the year at the top of the US Charts with 'I Will Always Love You', and Wendy Dore of Bay City was busily finalizing preparations for the first ever Pig Gig - an ambitious and multi-faceted vision geared to draw some of the best barbecue rib competitors in the world together along with top-flight national entertainment in a four-day family-oriented event that would in turn benefit substantially benefit some of our area's most significant charities.
This year the 2012 Labadie Pig Gig will take place from August 2nd - 5th with all the action & activity once again converging in Bay City's Veterans Memorial Park with a panoply of activities ranging from the 5K Race, a Kids Kraft Center, Pie Eating Contests, Pig Racing, a Jalapeno Eating Contest, the Piggy Parade, Watermelon Seed Spitting Contests, a Bingo Tent, a Climbing Wall, and many more activities to engage with in-between dining upon some of the finest ribs on the planet.
But the real kicker for this landmark 20th anniversary outing of the Pig Gig is the stellar line-up of entertainment, which kicks off opening night with The Spin Doctors on Thursday, August 2nd, continues on Friday, Aug. 3rd with the heavy rock sounds of Winger and Trapt, heats up on Saturday, Aug. 4th with Scotty McCreery, and concludes on Sunday, Aug. 5th with the inimitable Diamond Rio.
Seeing as this is the 20th Anniversary of the Pig Gig, festival coordinator & originator Wendy Dore is visibly excited about the new levels of activity that the Pig Gig is ascending towards. “We are focusing on the entertainment and have invested more into bringing a higher level of performance to our featured musical concerts,” she explains. “Not only will there be great shows on the main Labadie stage, but there will be lots of musical entertainment going on throughout the festival.”
Given that last year the event marked a point where it had raised around $900,000 for charities since its inception, Wendy is equally enthusiastic about the very real possibility of hitting the $1 million dollar mark with this landmark 20th Anniversary event. “We have approximately $40,000 to go to reach the million dollar mark and are quite confident that with the help of the community, we will be able to hit that goal during our 20th Anniversary celebration, which seems quite fitting,” she enthuses.
When looking back over 20 years of coordinating the Pig Gig, are there any moments that stand out in Wendy's mind as representing highlights that she is proud of, or defining moments that symbolize what this event is all about?
“It's amazing that 20 years has gone by so quickly,” reflects Wendy. “I've watched my kids grow up from being spectators of the Pig Racing and blowing bubbles on the family stage, to volunteering and running some of the aspects of this event. Rib competitors, vendors, media, charitable organizations and sponsors have all become friends. The Labadie Pig Gig has become a family reunion to man of us.”
“Some of my fondest memories involve Don 'Hutch' Hutchins, the Executive Director of The Boys & Girls Club who passed away a few years ago,” continues Wendy. “Hutch was instrumental in working with me to start the Labadie Pig Gig. Bill Wall (“Billy Bones”) holds a special place in my heart as well. It was Billy's idea to bring a national rib competition to Bay City and he saw the beauty that we have on the riverfront and invited all of his 'national' rib team friends to our beautiful city.”
“The defining moments are many, but what is most important to me is when we present the checks to the worthwhile charitable organizations in our community. That's what the Labadie Pig Gig is all about.”
For the actual rib competition, in addition to many familiar vendors, new competitors this year are Sgt. Oink's BBQ, MoJo's BBQ, The Rib Kind BBQ, That Guys' BBQ and returning from a few years ago is Mountain Town Station.
As for headlining musical entertainment, the alternative rock of The Spin Doctors are form a fitting kick-off on Thursday, August 2nd. Formed in New York City in the late 1980s, their debut album Pocket Full of Kryptonite was released in 1991 and broke the band wide open with hit singles Little Miss Can't Be Wrong and Two Princes, which topped on the Billboard charts at #17 and #7 respectively.
Trapt has been making successful hit rock music since their first debut album in 1998. They've had four Top-50 Billboard albums and three Top-25 chart toppers. Their self titled debut Trapt released in 2002 when platinum and elevated the band to international fame with singles Headstrong, Still Frame and Echo. They've continued their success with their next three albums, someone in Control, Only Through the Pain and No Apologies, which all cracked the Billboard Top-25.
Winger has been releasing music and touring successfully to enthusiastic fans for over 20 years, with two platinum albums, Winger and In The Heart of the Young, along with top charting singles Seventeen, Headed for a Heartbreak and Miles Away. In the early 90's they were nominated for the American Music Award of Best New Heavy Metal Band. Both Trapt and Winger will take to the evening stage on Friday, August 3rd.
American Idol winner Scotty McCreery will wow audiences as the headliner on Saturday, August 4th. His debut studio album, Clear as Day was released in October 2011 and was certified platinum in the United States, including the Top-20 country songs, I Love You This Big and The Trouble with Girls. He released his first hit single immediately after winning the 10th season of American Idol and sold 171,404 units in his first week. Clear as Day was certified platinum with over 1 million units shipped.
Closing things out on Sunday will be award winning country music stars Diamond Rio. Formed in Nashville back in 1984, the group released their debut album with the hit single Meet In the Middle which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts, making them the first country music group in history to reach Number One with a debut single. This was followed by an amazing 32 more chart singles throughout the band's illustrious career. Diamond Rio has recorded seven studio albums, two Greatest Hit compilations, and three of the band's albums have achieved platinum certification.
Tickets for each of these headlining shows are only $25.00, which includes admission to the Labadie Pig Gig's 'Medwest Cook Off' and all family activities and events.
For more information on the 2012 Labadie Pig Gig please go to www.piggig.com.