A fundraiser is going to step onstage at the end of August during the 158th Indiana County Fair and plant a big fat smackeroo on Olivia, Indiana County’s “most kissable” pig. Thousands will cheer, and the Evergreen After School Club (EASC), a nonprofit based in Indiana County, Pa., will hopefully have raised funds well in excess of the $20,000 it pulled in during 2019’s Kiss a Pig fundraiser, the last time the event was held.
Odds are good the nonprofit, which provides before school, afterschool, and summer programming to six school districts in Indiana County, will reach its fundraising goal. Participants pledge to bring in a minimum of $1,500 each, and a week before the May 27 registration deadline nine daring souls had already enrolled. The organization was in negotiations with 15 more potential fundraisers, according to EASC Director of Operations David Janusek.
“We have a mix [of private and corporate-sponsored] individuals,” Janusek said. “Indiana, Pa. has three major banks. If we can get bank one on, we can get bank two on. If we get banks one and two on, we can get bank three on.” At deadline, one bank had already offered a high-level executive and the EASC was in negotiations with a second, according to Janusek.
What began as a whim has been codified into a serious fundraising event. Participants now receive a handbook outlining their responsibilities regarding public appearances, as well as offering fundraising tips and information on EASC that can be used in their own fundraising efforts.
The Kiss a Pig fundraiser has been held three times: in 2016, 2017, and again in 2019 after an interim executive director nixed it in 2018. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic canceled it outright.
“In 2020, we couldn’t even kiss each other, let alone kiss a pig,” Janusek said. “We did other kinds of fundraising. At the end of the year, we held a virtual event – Kiss the Pig 2020 Goodbye. We raised $5,000, and pulled a name [of one of the donors] who got a weekend in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.”
The 75-pound Olivia is smaller than Black Magic, a substitute pig who stood in for Olivia in 2019 due to a swine-related infection that required all pigs on the fairgrounds to be slaughtered at the end of the fair. Olivia, who is a household pet, was not part of the festivities and will return this year. Joyce Sharman, 2019’s winner, brought home the bacon to the tune of $5,318 and kissed Black Magic on the top of his forehead. Sharman has since gone on to become president of EASC’s board, although there is no apparent causality.
Janusek acknowledged there is occasionally a small bit of shenanigans in the fundraising. In one of the past years, a participant who emphatically did not want to buss the bacon worked with organizers to raise exactly one penny less than the top fundraiser.
Participants do get recognition without having to kiss a pig. Local brew pubs hold fundraising nights, and participants serve as guest bartenders who put their tip money toward their fundraising totals. This year, the fundraising contest will formally begin at Noble Stein Brewing Company, a local craft brewery.
Olivia herself does appearances at events leading up to the county fair, and is widely acknowledged as open to selfies, gentle petting and even the occasional unpaid-for kiss. Olivia will appear at the Noble Stein kickoff.
Those interested in donating – or potentially puckering up – can find more information on the EASC’s Facebook page.