By Paul T. Choate
Feb. 14, 2012. BOONE — Prominent figures from around the High Country puckered up on Tuesday, Feb. 14, for the second annual “Big Pig Kiss Off” at the Wells Fargo bank in Boone. Participants were surprised, however, when they discovered they would be kissing a stuffed animal instead of a slobbering hog.
The event is held as a public relations and fundraising event for the High Country United Way. All “kissees” were individuals or employees of companies who had raised a specific goal amount for the United Way. In total, the event raised $37,270 to put toward aid in Avery and Watauga counties.
Linda Slade, coordinator of the “Big Pig Kiss Off,” said the stuffed pig was a last minute replacement after the real pig posed too difficult to control.
“Everybody was a big sport about being part of this anyway. They all thought they were going to kiss a real live pig and we did too up until a few hours ago,” said Slade.
Ray Russell, of raysweather.com, was a participant in the Kiss Off and hyped up the event prior to the revealing of the pig. He, along with Slade and James Wilkes, keeper of the pig, secretly knew the real pig would not be making an appearance.
“That’s the reason I built it up a little more about ‘mouth to snout.’ I had them all going pretty good I think,” said Russell.
Russell was also a participant last year when a real pig was used. “It was not fun, I can tell you, last year,” he said. “I was down on all fours for it.”
The relief on participants’ faces was evident when the replacement pig, supplied by Bandana’s Bar B Que and Grill, was carried out. Regardless what pig participants puckered up for it was all for a good cause.
With the Pig Kiss Off contributions, the High Country United Way is currently at 65 percent of their total fundraising goal of $500,000.
Photos by Paul T Choate.