Maryland BBQ Bash in Bel Air kicks off with Kiss a Pig fundraiser

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Harford Community College President Dianna Phillips planted a kiss on a two-and-a-half week-old piglet at the Maryland State BBQ Bash in Bel Air Friday evening.

Phillips’ kiss was part of a celebration of those who helped raise more than $53,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford and Cecil Counties through the clubs’ annual Kiss a Pig Fundraiser.

The community college was a grand sponsor for the event in which teams and individuals raise money or seek sponsorships to support the local Boys & Girls Clubs, and the top fundraisers get to kiss a pig during the BBQ bash.

“All I can say is, great futures do start with the Boys and Girls Clubs; we are honored to be a sponsor,” Phillips said from the main stage, citing the organization’s tagline, “Great futures start here.”

Howard McComas IV, a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs’ board and coordinator of the Kiss a Pig Fundraiser, announced the winners during the 16th annual BBQ Bash, a two-day event that also hosted Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on its opening night.

The BBQ Bash will continue Saturday in the parking lot of the Mary E. W. Risteau District Court & Multi-Service Center at South Bond and Thomas Street in downtown Bel Air.

Saturday’s activities include a professional BBQ competition and judging, plenty of food and drink stands and free live music from 2 to 10 p.m., with headliner Jason “Sundance” Head, winner of NBC’s “The Voice” singing competition in 2016, taking the stage from 8 to 10 p.m.

In addition to the zany fundraiser, Friday’s visitors were treated to live music, as many of them lined up for food and drinks at the stands, while others partook in the $75-a-ticket Roll Out the Barrel cigar and bourbon-tasting that also has become a popular opening night event. nt, even a visit from Gov. Larry Hogan.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican running for a second term, moved through the crowd, chatting with people and posing for photos. He did not kiss a pig, however.

“It’s really an incredible festival, one of the best anywhere in the state, no question about it,” said Hogan, who had visited the BBQ bash once before.

He was accompanied by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, also a Republican and a strong supporter of Hogan.

“Harford County loves the governor, that’s for sure!” Glassman said.

“It’s just an incredibly warm welcome, and I always feel at home when I’m in Hafrord County,” Hogan said.

The governor presented a citation to the leaders of the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, which coordinates the BBQ Bash. The citation was a recognition of the economic impact the bash has in Harford County and the state, according to Christine McPherson, executive director of the alliance.

The bash draws tens of thousands of people each year, and it is a major fundraiser for the alliance. McPherson said it takes “a lot of sweat and tears” to put on the event.

“It makes it worth it when the governor is supporting it and proud of it,” she said.

The Kiss a Pig Fundraiser been taking place for about a dozen years, McComas said. About half a million dollars has been raised for the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Each dollar raised supports about $9 worth of services, Derek DeWitt, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs, said. The organization serves more than 6,000 children between the ages of 6 and 18 in Cecil and Harford counties, and it costs about $1,000 per child to provide them with after-school support and summer camps.

Families are only charged $20 per child for younger children and $5 for teenagers, DeWitt said.

The fundraising teams recognized Friday included Team Survice, which raised $2,100, Team Chesapeak Shredding ($2,300), Team GLENWOOD ($3,025), Team NVS ($6,285), Team HCPL (Harford County Public Library), which raised $5,634 and Team APG Federal Credit Union, which raised $10,382, according to a list provided by DeWitt.

Additional funds had been raised through other events, such as the Catch a Pig 5K on the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail in July, an APGFCU bull roast, T-shirt sales and fundraisers hosted by the public library, according to DeWitt.

The credit union team was recognized for setting a new record for total raised by a single team, and Team NVS — the NVS Merle Norman Salon & Spa in Bel Air — was honored for soliciting the greatest number of sponsors, according to DeWitt.

Tammy Ehrbaker, the salon co-owner, kissed the piglet along with co-owner Stathis Kotanidis and stylist Julie French. Ehrbaker said this year is the first her business has participated in Kiss a Pig.

“I thought it was really sweet,” she said of kissing the piglet. “I have never seen a 2-week-old pig, so I thought it was pretty cool.”

Paul Majewski, of Forest Hill, held the piglet while the winners kissed it. His daughters, Skylar and Addison, recently showed pigs at the Harford County Farm Fair and sold swine at the annual 4-H livestock auction. The piglet he held Friday had been acquired from the Troyer family, of Monkton, though.

Majewski and his family were part of the fundraising team, Team Chesapeak Shredding — he is the owner of the Forest Hill company, plus he is a Boys & Girls Club board member.

He said he and his family have been working with the piglet for about a week so it would be comfortable with being held during the ceremony.

“It’s just small and cute and very kissable,” he said.

Majewski said his family loves supporting programs that “give back locally, especially programs that give back to our future youth.”

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