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Hogs for Hospice revs up the community for a cause


by Garrett Fodor

Thousands of motorcycles, riders, and members of the community took to the streets last weekend as the annual “Hogs for Hospice” event returned to Leamington.

  The three-day festival returned for the first time since 2019, following COVID-19. Riders from across Southwestern Ontario flocked to the southern tip of the province to participate in the festival, which raises money and awareness for Hospice of Windsor and Essex County. 

  “It was not hard to pick up the planning of the event as a Board, but in a way, it was almost like year one again for us,” Joe Oswald said, who is one of seven members who serves on the Hogs for Hospice Board of Directors. “This event takes a lot of planning and organizing. We really try to make it a great family event and bring everyone together not only for a good cause, but for fun, education, and awareness as well.” 

  The weekend of festivities began on Friday, with vendors and food trucks opening before “The Cult” performed. Saturday featured crowd favourites, including a pancake breakfast and Pro Rider Free Style Motocross, before the “Tour the Tip” ride, which featured over 2000 riders. Saturday concluded with performances by Brett Young and Blackjack Billy.

  Sunday featured the Biker Rodeo and, new to this year’s event, the Junior Biker Rodeo, which had riders compete against one another in fun challenges in an attempt to take home the ultimate prize. 

  “To us, our goal is to create an event people see value in, with health and safety being number one for our guests, volunteers, and community as well,” Oswald noted. “We understand that sometimes there can be stigmas with riders and rider organizations, but riders go to where they feel welcome and our community has opened their arms and we have built a family-friendly event with nearly everything being free to the public.

  “What started as an event to raise money for awareness for hospice has truly turned into a moment,” Oswald continued. “We are proud to say Hogs for Hospice takes care of about 75-80 percent of the funding the facility needs, so families that go there, can focus 100 percent of their attention on their family member instead of having to worry about the caregiver aspect.”

  Since the ride was formed in 2015, organizers estimate that more than $1.25M has been raised for Hospice of Windsor and Essex County. Oswald said this year’s edition of the event has been the best yet, from ridership, to concert attendance, to crowds. He is optimistic and excited for next year.

  Oswald said the event could not have been made possible without the support of over 400 volunteers, countless community and corporate sponsors, and the community as a whole. He encourages anyone interested to check out its website, www.hogsforhospice.com, for a chance to get in on the 50/50 draw, which is being held on August 4. The winner’s share at the time of publishing is over $211,000.