Wild & Woolly Festival Fun A small town in Texas, Sabinal is plagued by wild hogs that destroy crops and property and pose a danger to motorists. Sabinal Lions, however, have found a way to put these pests to some good use with a tongue-in-cheek celebration that raises significant money. Every March for the past 21 years, the club has sponsored a Wild Hog Festival complete with a hog catching contest, a craft fair, food, carnival rides, vendors and even a princess and her court. In 2012, Lions raised more than $44,000 from the weekend festival. Lions donate to the library, fire department, food pantry and youth activities. Funds are also used to pay for eyeglasses and hearing aids, send kids to camp, award scholarships and donate to local agencies. Nearly 10,000 people, some from as far away as Australia and Germany, attend the festival, which features a cast of characters. “The ‘chicken on a stick guy,’ the ‘funnel cake guy’ and the ‘lemonade lady’ are just a few favorites—especially mine,” says Lion Melissa Smart. The main event is the Wild Hog Catching World Championships. “The object of the hog catching is just that—catching a hog,” says Smart, whose own kids have competed in the children’s contest. A team with a burlap sack chases a wild pig in a ring. A team has 3 minutes to get the pig over the finish line. Contestants aren’t allowed to go hog wild themselves by kicking, punching or mistreating the animals, which can range from piglets to hogs weighing 150 pounds or more. Ohio Club Nurtures Scholars Much mulch grows scholars in northwest Ohio. Since 2000, Ada Lions have given 49 $1,000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors. The club’s annual mulch sale makes it possible. “Our club didn’t have a lot of dollars. This was a stretch for us,” says Mike Stavenger. Last year’s mulch sale was the club’s most successful. It ordered and sold 12 semi-truck loads—more than a half million pounds of mulch. The scholarships are well-known in the community. Nearly one in six seniors applies. “We look at need, leadership skills, the likely ability to graduate from an institute of higher learning and any other special points, such as if there are multiple siblings, single parents or illness in the family,” says Stavenger. The club has selected applicants well—so far 92 percent of scholarship recipients have graduated. In addition to providing scholarships, Lions also impart some words of wisdom. “One thing we emphasize is that in their future as adults to pay it forward when they graduate and establish themselves in other communities,” Stavenger points out.
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