This year, it takes place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26, themed “High on the Hog.”
Since 2008, the nonprofit, 501 c (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 that Friday, Fall Feral Follies at Moore’s Store Restaurant & Live Music Venue (located at 1551 FM 279, Ben Wheeler TX 75754), Hog Queen contestants compete for the crown—a chance to reign as the official Fall Feral Hog Festival Queen for a year.
Hog Queen Mary Ramler took the crown home in 2012. 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,at 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 Saturday Festival
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 & Texas Express, Texas Roundup and blacktopGYPSY.
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—they eat plants and other animals—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 is interested in sponsoring Hog Fest 2013, please contact email@example.com.
For more general Hog Fest information, call 903-833-1070 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a community with a thousand or so nearby residents, Ben Wheeler Development Company, LLC (BWDC) and Ben Wheeler Arts & Historic District Foundation has resurrected the town with various entertainment porches, new restaurants, new shops, an historical chapel and schoolhouse, as well as various businesses.
Ben Wheeler’s renewal, growth and development are ongoing.
Ben Wheeler, named for the first man to carry mail into Van Zandt County, thrived during the late 1800s and early 1900s, as families arrived in horse-drawn wagons, rode horses, or walked to visit, get mail, buy supplies, and sell or trade goods at one of the several general stores.
The community included churches, barbers, blacksmiths, tailors, saddle and shoe shop, several gins and mills, a bank, the Berry Resort Hotel, boarding houses, a movie theater, lumber yard, a garage with gas pumps— eventually, cafes, a school, and even a college at one time called the Alamo Institute.
Ben Wheeler shrank after World War II as many people left for large cities to find work.