HEBRON — The trek toward Hebron's third annual Redneck Blank Pig Roast and Music Festival has begun.
“There's one guy from Florida who is driving all the way up the East Coast (to Hebron) and picking up people as he goes along in his RV,” said event organizer Harold Brooks.
Brooks was setting up tents and finishing last-minute details Wednesday before the gates opened at 8 a.m. Thursday.
The Florida man, who is in his 60s, is making his first trip to the event and will be bringing about 45 strangers who have asked for rides on Facebook, Brooks said.
The event is scheduled for Aug. 1-4 on Brooks’ farm at 12 Harold Lane. It draws thousands of people each summer.
The History Channel is expected to film the event, Brooks said.
It will feature a pig roast, free camping, a beer tent and live music, including nine bands. There will be numerous Olympic-style events and games, such as bobbing for pigs' feet, toilet-seat horseshoes, a greased watermelon haul and a tire beer trot.
New this year, an artist-in-residence will create a large mural to bring a new artsy feeling to the event, Brooks said.
“It's a great blend of people,” he said, with many attendees between the ages of 35 and 55.
“This is about having fun," Brooks said. "It's not about drinking beer.”
The event is also about raising money for charities. This year's recipients will be the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine, Camp Sunshine in Casco, Shriners Children’s Hospital, Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston, The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in Lewiston, Bikers against Bullying and the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital.
Although Brooks had banked on a demolition derby to pull in a lot of those charity funds, the event had to be canceled when insurance costs rose to about $15,000.
Not deterred, Brooks said he has found some new ways to raise more money. There will be 20,000 raffle tickets available for the 50/50, with 50 percent going to the charities and 50 percent, up to $10,000, to an individual.
The event also will raise money for a local Boy Scout troop to put up new "Welcome to Hebron" signs.
Also, seven single men in uniforms will be auctioned off Saturday night by WPOR radio.
A young Lewiston couple will get married on the main stage, complete with an Elvis impersonator and the Veayo Twins acting as flower girls.
Bands will begin playing Thursday night, including Skosh and Cold Blue Steel. Friday night will bring Firewater Creek, Veggies by Day and the AC-DC tribute band Back in Black from Boston, Mass. On Saturday, night the music will continue with Unchartered and the Mallett Brothers.
The event, which was permitted by the Board of Selectmen, has drawn worldwide attention in the past few years after the U.S. Olympic Committee challenged Brooks on the use of the name “Olympics.” Though he was forced to stop using the name, he said the resulting publicity was a boon.
Last year, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" made its way to Hebron to give the 2012 Redneck Blank coverage, which Brooks has said was good publicity.
Gates will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday.