When strolling through the streets of Louisville, one can’t help but notice the life-size horse statues painted in varying themes throughout the city. While the initial vision of “Oink for Owensboro” was to help provide a similar visual representation for the city of Owensboro, the two-year project has transformed into a creative act of philanthropy.
Oink for Owensboro facilitates donations between local businesses and nonprofits by encouraging businesses to design a fiberglass pig sculpture and then select a local nonprofit that will receive a $5,000 donation. Kentucky Legend designed the project to generate financial support for area charities while bringing the community together around the local traditions of barbecue and Kentucky.
The exhibition of this year’s pig sculptures will run from May 10 to October 31, with the pigs premiering for the first time at a private, invitation-only Pigxhibit event at the Owensboro Convention Center May 9.
Kentucky Legend is responsible for the cost of each pig and everything involved in its preparation for display, resulting in the pork supplier investing $40,000 in this venture last year.
However, the company raised $60,000 for local charities, with every penny donated going directly to the nonprofit of each business’s choosing. This year, Kentucky Legend and area business sponsors will reveal eight new pigs, generating an additional $40,000 for local nonprofits.
“It brings the coolest level of awareness to us because tourists are coming into the city not realizing that tucked away in the back near the river is the nation’s No. 1 natural juice boneless ham producer right here in Owensboro, Ky.,” said Brooklyn Maple, brand director for Kentucky Legend. “And these great pigs represent money that goes to nonprofits, but then let people know we [Kentucky Legend] may not be a destination spot, but we’re here and we’re giving back to the city.”
Maple said that there was not one business that said no to the initial idea in 2018, and there were several new business sponsors added this year. She said she has received calls from many area nonprofit organizations, asking to be put on the list for this project, but that there is no designated list, as the choice for the recipient is completely up to the business.
“I’m hoping that the event is such a success that the company sponsors want to be a part of it even for the event aspect of it because we know $5,000 is a lot of money every year to give for a nonprofit,” Maple said, adding that the company recognizes that these businesses support other endeavors as well.
With that in mind, Kentucky Legend is bringing back the original 20 pigs in 2020, with no financial commitment required by local businesses.
“We’re hoping all businesses come back in 2021, and we actually have a fresh 20 [pigs],” Maple said. “That’s a goal — which would raise $100,000 for the community.”
With last year’s pig reveal being a complete surprise to the city, Maple and her staff felt it best this year to design an event around those invested in the project.
“The whole reason we came up with the Pigxibit was to allow the sponsors and the nonprofits to really get to enjoy their hard work and the artists’ hard work,” Maple said. “This year, we wanted to really make it something special. I feel like the artists are really a big part of it and it wouldn’t make any sense to not have them there.”
Maple said the whole concept was to host an art exhibit for the pig statues, which will each be displayed on a raised platform, with a drapery backdrop and focal spotlight so each can be admired as a piece of art.
When asked about the amount of cost and effort that went into such a project, Maple said this has not only become their signature event in the community and something they do well, but their opportunity to give back in the most creative of ways.
“We are the title sponsor for one event in town, and we partner with a lot of great venues, individuals and businesses in the community,” Maple said. “But it’s our one thing — we created it — and we’re driving it. That’s why we put so much behind it.”
The following community businesses and nonprofits will have a pig on display at the Oink for Owensboro Pigxibit event, with the official designs and locations to be revealed that evening.
- Kentucky Legend selected St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter as their nonprofit
- Owensboro Health Regional Hospital had two pigs created for Owensboro Regional Farmers’ Market
- Old National Bank will be donating to the Boulware Mission, Inc.
- Don Moore Automotive chose CASA of Ohio Valley as their recipient
- O.Z. Tyler Distillery has selected Puzzle Pieces, Inc. as their beneficiary
- International Bar-B-Q Festival has selected the Owensboro Daviess County Veteran’s Association
- Mayor Tom Watson will be making his $5,000 donation payable to the Daniel Pitino Shelter
* Editor’s Note: This article contains changes made after publication.