Hogs Through The Decades: A Hearty Helping of Good Times and Goodwill

From it’s earliest start, Hogs has been brimming with unity, generosity, and lip-smacking BBQ! Having started as a humble pig roast and transformed into one of America’s largest BBQ and Music festivals. Over the years, we have contributed nearly $10 million and counting to support families when they most need it. So, let’s sink our teeth into the heartwarming journey of this one-of-a-kind organization, from its modest beginnings to its current status as a nationally recognized charity.

The Spark That Ignited the Flame

The story of Hogs for the Cause begins in 2009, when two longtime friends, Rene Louapre and Becker Hall, decided to host a get-together in Audubon Park. It was planned as a simple affair – a pig roast coupled with a keg of beer, but took on a greater cause when they heard about Ben Sarrat Jr., a vibrant 5-year-old battling an incurable form of brain cancer. Stirred by Ben Jr.’s story, they decided to transform the pig roast into a fundraising cook-off for the Sarrat family. This event raised around $7,000, a success that encouraged them to contemplate an annual pig roast to support different causes each year. But destiny had other plans.

The Creation of Hogs for the Cause

As Louapre and Hall got to know Ben Jr., they were deeply moved by his resilience despite battling a terrible disease. They realized that pediatric brain cancer was not an uncommon ailment, with many families across the country navigating the same arduous journey. This revelation prompted them to dedicate Hogs for the Cause to an annual event to support families dealing with the unexpected expenses associated with pediatric brain cancer treatment. Even after Ben Jr.’s passing, his spirit and infectious happiness continued to inspire and guide their mission.

From a Simple Pig Roast to a National Festival

Since its inception, Hogs for the Cause has morphed from a small gathering to a large-scale food and music festival, attracting tens of thousands of attendees and competitors from across the Country. The cook-off that includes categories like ribs, shoulder, whole hog, and the creative “pork-pourri” while the stages welcome some of the best known acts across Americana, indie-rock, funk and more. It has been recognized as one of the “World’s Most Delicious Fundraisers” by Forbes and has become the leading funding source for pediatric brain cancer outreach services in the United States.

The Impact Beyond the BBQ

At its heart, Hogs for the Cause is more than just a food and music festival. It’s a beacon of hope for families in the throes of pediatric brain cancer. The money raised is given as “no strings attached” grants, allowing families to use the funds for anything they need, from medical expenses to a fun family outing. To date, Hogs for the Cause has provided over 1,600 direct grants to families in need across various states, including Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia.

Record-Breaking Success

Fast forward to 2023, the15th Hogs for the Cause event was held on March 31 and April 1 at the UNO Lakefront Arena Festival Grounds. This year’s festival saw record-breaking crowds and fundraising efforts, with the event raising a staggering $3.6 million.

“We broke the scale this year,” said Becker Hall. “The amount of good that can be done with these funds is astonishing and humbling. We are so thankful for our teams, attendees, volunteers, sponsors, and families.”

A Scorching Hot Future

With 15 years of good food, good music, and good deeds under its belt, Hogs for the Cause shows no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, this BBQ and music festival is just hitting its stride. It’s success is a testament to the increasing popularity and impact of this event. And indeed, it has continued to make an even greater impact, developing multi-million dollar Hogs Houses that allow for families to reside near the hospital in comfort while their child is in treatment.

As Hogs for the Cause continues to evolve and grow, it promises an exciting future of more delicious BBQ, more incredible music, and most importantly, more support for families battling pediatric brain cancer. From its humble beginnings as a backyard BBQ, Hogs for the Cause has grown into a nationwide phenomenon. And if the past is any indication, we can only expect the future to be even more flavorful and impactful. So here’s to many more years of Hogs for the Cause, as it continues to bring people together and make a difference, one BBQ at a time.

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