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Wild Hog Explosion cancelled

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Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2019 4:09 pm

The Wild Hog Explosion has been called off by the Bandera County Library’s board of directors after a Bandera treatment center backed out of an agreement to operate the annual fundraising event in the face of angry criticism and reportedly threats from an animal rights organization that was protesting the show.

John Pearce, the vice president of the library’s board of directors, said the board met on Monday, March 4, and decided unanimously to cancel the Wild Hog Explosion because Warriors Heart had advised it by letter that it was withdrawing from a one-year agreement to host all but one event at the show and the board did not think it had the time to pull the event together itself or find another organization to step in for Warriors Heart.

The Wild Hog Explosion, which features contests pitting wild hogs against teams of youngsters who try to catch the fleeing animals in a small ring, place them in a sack and carry the past a finish line in the shortest time possible, is a major fundraiser for the library.  The event was scheduled to be held at Mansfield Park on March 16 in what would have been its 17th year of operation but with someone other than the library as its prime operator.

“(Warriors Heart’s) decision will stand.  There’s not enough time for us to do it,” said Pearce.  “We’ve very disappointed it won’t happen.”

Josh Lannon, the founder and president of Warriors Heart, a treatment facility for military veterans and members of first responder organization, was out of the country but was available to comment about the situation by text.

He said his organization got involved in the event to help the library and the Bandera community by putting on a needed fundraiser that the library board was having a difficult time putting on itself.

“After really getting into it, we began to see how much anger and confusion there is around the event, especially with the hog sacking portion,” Lannon said in one of his texts.

He said Warriors Heart chose to withdraw from the agreement “after a chain of events,” and the final decision came after Warriors Heart officials talked to “fellow

 business owners who were being threatened by animal activist.”

Lannon had texted on Thursday, Feb. 28, that Warriors Heart was “getting death threats from the activists” as well.

The Bandera Bulletin mistakenly reported in the Wednesday, Feb. 27 edition of the newspaper that Warriors Heart was excited to be part of the event and instead was “very concerned” about the explosion, which critics in the activist group were calling “animal cruelty,” wrote Lannon.

“This is something that Warrior Heart will not be part of,” Lannon said in text on Saturday, March 2, that confirmed his organization would not be supporting the event.

“(The) Warriors Heart mission and focus it to bring healing to our nation’s warriors and the community. The Wild Hog Explosion was now in conflict with our purpose and creating more harm to our community than good,” the center’s president said in a text on Monday, March 4.

Pearce said he had not received threats from the protesting group called Unparalleled Suffering and he was not aware of any other sponsoring agencies that had been threatened.

The library board official said last week that he thought the protestors had been misinformed about how the event was run.  The hogs got plenty of water to drink during the contest, were kept in the shade before being released into a pen and were only used once during the show, Pearce said.

The board’s decision to cancel the show was not significantly influenced by the complaints and allegations of Unparalleled Suffering, which has been organizing its protest and commenting on other animal rights issues on its Facebook page, Pearce said.  He said the decision was primarily the result of Warriors Heart’s decision not to be involved in the activity.

With less than two weeks until the event was scheduled to be held and without being able to identify another organization capable of pulling the event together in that time, the board chose to shut down the event this year.

Pearce did say the library board will still hold the one event it always had planned to operate – the Bacon Bingo, raffle-like event – though it will not be operated like it was before.

Instead of selling numbers on 300 squares that are laid out on the ground and awarding a $1,000 prize to the holder of the number where a pig first deposits his load, the library will hold a drawing for the winning ticket at the library on March 16, Pearce said.

Only a few tickets remain available for the event.  Pearce said anyone interested in buying a ticket should make an inquiry at the library at 515 Main St. in Bandera or by calling 830-796-4213.

Attempts to obtain a comment from a representative of Unparalleled Suffering were unsuccessful.

On its Facebook page, it had called the explosion a festival “centered around disrespect and abuse of wild pigs” and urged its supporters to call the library, the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce and other local officials or send them emails or texts expressing their outrage at the event.

It mounted a petition drive against the event and encouraged supporters to turn out for the show to protest if it was not cancelled.  A Feb. 26 post on the group’s Facebook page said nearly 10,000 people had signed the petition protesting conditions at the show.

Unparalleled Suffering also said its protests had shut down a similar hog sacking event planned at the Rio Frio Fest.

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