Skip Navigation Bil Lepp took the honor of being the Biggest Liar in West Virginia at the 1997 Vandalia Gathering Liar's Contest. We've reprinted his story just as he told it to the audience that afternoon.

This past December I graduated from my master's program. Ever since then I've been looking for a job. To that end I decided I would go down to the employment agency and take one of those career aptitude tests.

When I was done, the counselor called me into his office, sat me down, got that stern look a principal gets when you're in trouble. And he says, "Yours is the strangest test I've ever graded in all my days." He said, "As far as I can tell, there are only two careers which you might even be remotely suited for." He said, "As far as I can tell, you should either go into the line of monster truck driving, or into politics.

Well, I sat there a minute and I weighed the pros and cons of both of those ideas and I figured while monster truck driving certainly had a few pros in its corner, if I went into politics, I'd be dealing exclusively with cons. And I didn't want anything to do with that, so I signed the papers. I started down the road to my new, rewarding, and exciting career as a contestant in Monster Truck and Tractor Pulls.

Well, I've got to be honest with you, though, folks. I wasn't very good. Before long, I was in a slump and my career was fading. Well, now those of you that have heard me speak before you remember my dog, Buck-dog. That's my extraordinary hunting dog, whose mamma was a German Shepherd but who's daddy was a determined and extremely prolific Basset Hound.

Well, old Buck-dog is just about ready to celebrate his second birthday in dog years, that's about 14 in people years. As a consequence, he is suffering through the "terrible twos" and the onset of early adolescence simultaneously.

He's quite a handful. To complicate matters, Buck-dog's smarter than your average human and stronger than four CS&X train engines pulling in unison. To make it even more difficult, Buck- dog likes to run free but the law says I've got to keep him tied up. I tell you what, in the last 18 months, that dog has broken more ropes, chains, and steel cables than Congress has promises.

One night I tied him up to the back wall of my shed. In the morning I woke up, I had a loose dog and a lean-to. Well, now one night just about last April after a particularly grueling match at the truck and tractor pulls, I came home, I was sick and tired of my career, I was fed up with Buck-dog's antics. I went in my barn, I got the biggest chain I could find and I chained Buck-dog to the frame of my monster truck.

I looked at that rig and I said, "There, buddy, get yourself out of that one." I went in, I had my first good night's sleep I'd had in a long time. Well, now I want to establish just a little bit of credibility with you people. I think you and I both know that I'd be lying if I told you when I went out in the morning to check on Buck-dog, he had somehow gotten loose of that get-up.

No sir, when I found him, he was chained just as tight to the frame of that truck as he had been the night before. I do have to tell you, though, that when I finally did find him, he had managed to pull my truck 80 feet into the woods. And would probably still be going now if he hadn't treed the squirrel he was chasing.

Well, I looked at him there, sound asleep beneath my truck, and I got an idea. A stroke of genius, really. I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be something if at the next truck and tractor pull, I had Buck-dog pull my truck across the auditorium?"

Right then, I started that dog on a strict training regime. I weaned him totally off water. I got him to where he was drinking nothing but distilled diesel fuel. For meals, he ate nothing but raw meat, chunks of coal, and ramps. Bud, if that didn't give him the gas he needed to go on.

To get him a little bit stronger, at night time I just tied him up to something really heavy, some really heavy loose object a fallen tree, a boulder, I even tied him to the tank in front of the National Armory building. And I just let him go. And just as a last measure, I took up all the newspapers I had been using to potty train him on, and I laid down muscle magazines instead.

Well, now while he was bulking up, I was working too. I got some of that cable the riverboats use to tie their barges up with and I spun that into a harness. Then I got the coupling mechanism off an old CS&X coal car. Well I took out my stainless steel, 74- function Swiss army-type knife. I quickly opened up the acetylene torch and the welding glasses. Pulled those glasses over my face and I welded that coupling mechanism to the harness on Buck-dog.

Now with that pulling rig, Buck-dog could have pulled the bottom of the New River Gorge to the top of Spruce Knob. If I had a'hooked Buck-dog up to the tip of the Eastern Panhandle and got him running west, he could have flipped the whole state onto Ohio like a buckwheat flapjack.

Needless to say, we took the world of Truck and Tractor Pull by surprise. In no time at all, we had won the locals, the states, and the regionals.

The national championships weren't for a couple of days, so Buck-dog and I took a little vacation. We went up to Alaska. Buck-dog did the Iditarod in six hours flat. And he did it pulling me in my converted tour bus put up on sled runners. Well, now the national champion was a guy that represented the federal government. You see, it seems our president being from Arkansas likes his truck and tractor pulls. And he had commissioned 144 federal agents from 117 federal agencies to build him a pulling machine.

Well, what they did, they went down to a surplus store, bought an old CS&X train locomotive, put it up on six foot steel wheels, got one of those brand-new 5,000 horsepower Caterpillar engines, and got the boys at NASA to convert it so that it ran on a lethal mixture of diesel fuel and liquid oxygen. It was a hauling machine. Why it could haul a 168-car CS&X monster train loaded down with 19,364 tons of pure West Virginia bituminous coal clear from Cowen to Grafton, via Burnsville, Buckhannon, Carrolton, and Philippi, along Weirton's world-famous steel fashioned into CS&X railroad tracks in less time than it takes me tell you about it. Still with me?

Well, now the national championship it was held on a stretch of old railroad tracks just east of French Creek. And the rules were pretty simple: They backed that train engine up to Buck-dog along the tracks there and coupled the two of them together, pointed them in different directions, and then the judges walked five yards down either direction of the track and painted one railroad tie hunter's orange. Whichever contestant pulled the other guy across that line first won.

Well, I tell you what folks. When that engine started, it started with a boom! Smoke and fire bellowed forth from its stacks like Union Carbide in its heyday. The engineer went full throttle, took the brake all the way off, and those six-foot steel wheels started to spin like the wheels on a drag car. The whole thing shook with power. It just oozed kinetic energy. But Buck-dog just leaned forward in his harness and that train didn't move.

They stayed like that for the rest of the day and into the night. It was a classic John Henry situation. They went on like that for days and days, the rhododendrons bloomed, the mighty Buckhannon River surged and waned on its eternal course. But try as it might, that 5,000 horsepower engine, the brain child of a 144 federal agents from 117 federal agencies couldn't make Buck- dog budge.

You see, it was in situations just like these when Buck- dog's daddy being a Basset Hound really paid off in spades. Because you see, even in the hills of West Virginia, on his short little legs, Buck-dog's center of gravity is somewhere below sea level. I could tell that dog was ready to hold out like a right- wing, gun-toting, Communist-hating, conspiracy theory-hatching, Texas separatist militia man and there was NO way that 144 federal agents were going to bring him down!

Well, they went on like that for days and it began to look like a draw. And then one day, ever so easy, Buck-dog started to raise his front right paw and go into a point. Well, a hush fell over the crowd. And we looked down the tracks about 30 yards and there was a squirrel making his way down the tracks, oblivious to the mortal combat not half a football field away.

Well, Buck-dog just stared at it and we all just stared at Buck-dog. And when that squirrel got within range, Buck-dog just shot after it, not even thinking about the weight he was towing. And before the judges could ring the bell to finish the match, Buck-dog had that squirrel in his grasp and that engine hanging ten feet off the ground from the lowest branch on the nearest oak tree.

They crowned him National Champion. That night he feasted on a fine meal of Alpo and squirrel gravy. And tomorrow he starts his job with the West Virginia Department of Highways. They want to know if he can pull Route 33 clear to Washington before DC collapses. That would be a heavy job for anyone, even Buck-dog.

Thank you very much.

The Liar's Contest is a regular part of the Vandalia Gathering, held every Memorial Day weekend at the Capitol Complex in Charleston, West Virginia. Free to the public, the event also features great Old Time music, heritage dancing, crafts and food. You can find out more about the event here.