Two years ago, Brooklyn Maple had a big idea. In her role as the Director of Marketing for Kentucky Legend, projects like the Big Pig Gig of Cincinnati and the fiberglass horses of Lexington inspired her to add a unique flavor to downtown Owensboro with a similar project. Brooklyn and other leaders within Kentucky Legend, a company known for its specially cured ham, met with the city of Owensboro to devise a way to bring fiberglass pigs to the downtown Owensboro area as a charity project. Why pig statues? “We wanted pigs because of Kentucky Legend ham and because of the centrality of the Bar-B-Que Festival to Owensboro,” Brooklyn said. Owensboro is famous for its barbecue, and the Oink for Owensboro project hopes to celebrate this heritage through the series of swine statues.
For the past two years, Kentucky Legend has been building relationships with local businesses and non-profit organizations in the Owensboro area to launch the Oink for Owensboro project and help bring this vision into reality. Oink for Owensboro is about more than just statues, and through this charity project, Kentucky Legend connected 12 local businesses with 12 non-profit organizations. Each of these businesses, which include Kentucky Legend, Independence Bank, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Old National Bank, O.Z. Tyler Distillery, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Downtown, International Bar-B-Que Festival, Greenwell Chisholm, Mayor Tom Watson, The Pearl Club, Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, and one anonymous donor, has given a $5,000 donation to the non-profit with which they’ve partnered. Each of the 12 pigs will commemorate these charitable relationships around the city of Owensboro.
“Kentucky Legend is just the vehicle to promote the charity,” Brooklyn stated. Kentucky Legend has financed the cost of each of the pig sculptures out of a desire to raise money for deserving non-profit organizations in the community and to facilitate a special and memorable way for businesses to give back to charities and non-profits in the community. The organizations that will benefit include: Puzzle Pieces, Green River Area Down Syndrome Association, Alzheimer’s Association, Boulware Mission, Dream Riders of Kentucky, Crossroads, Owensboro Museum of Science and History, American Association of University Women, Oasis, Daniel Pitino Shelter, Fresh Start for Women, RiverPark Center and Owensboro Symphony Orchestra.
In his role as Director of Public Events for the City of Owensboro, Tim Ross played an essential part in making Oink for Owensboro happen. “We work with Kentucky Legend on quite a few projects, so when they told us they were interested in a public arts project downtown, the (Owensboro City) Commission was fully supportive of the project and providing space. Any time we can add something different that gets people’s attention in Owensboro, it’s a good thing,” Tim said. “We want to give our local folks and visitors something to check out.”
While the locations of all 12 pigs are not yet finalized, several will likely be placed near the revitalized riverfront. Other potential locations include other areas around downtown Owensboro and in front of the business offices for the donating organizations, like Independence Bank and O.Z. Tyler Distillery.
So what will the pigs look like? Even though the designs of each pig are being kept a secret, art consultant Austin Casebolt gave one hint and said that some of the sculptures may have a historical theme. “Most companies have been designing the pigs secretively and will unveil them at the Bar-B-Que Festival. It’s so exciting to see the camaraderie of the community all wrapped up in art! I couldn’t be more excited.” Austin has been integral in guiding Kentucky Legend through the creative process by helping the businesses build a concept for their pigs and work through design details like paint and aesthetics. The designs of each pig reflect business, historical, or cultural themes that make up the fabric of the city of Owensboro as well as the businesses showcasing the pigs.
“All the work will come to fruition during the Bar-B-Que Fest weekend,” said Tim. The weekend of May 11 & 12, Kentucky Legend will officially unveil the pigs for the very first time in front of the Owensboro Convention Center during the 2018 International Bar-B-Que Festival.
Next year, Kentucky Legend hopes to expand Oink for Owensboro and add 20 more pigs to the project. While this year they were able to facilitate a total of $60,000 in donations to 12 non-profit organizations, they hope the program will catch on and that they will be able to generate over $100,000 in donations to 20 charities around the Owensboro community in 2019.