Dallas Bears president Wayne Davis is the humble dynamo who keeps TBRU on track

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FUR FLYING | Last year’s Texas Bear Round Up was the best-attended ever, but organizers expect this one will continue to grow in number of attendees from all around the world.

RICH LOPEZ  | Contributing Writer
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Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 10.26.19 AMApproximately 50 gentlemen showed up for the Dallas Bears meeting at the Youth First Texas facilities on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. With details to iron out, the men take their seats on long sofas and a smattering of chairs at a drab meeting room as they prepare for something that is less event than onslaught.
Texas Bear Round Up is nearly upon them.

Leading the charge is Dallas Bears president Wayne Davis who, for the past four years, has worked to streamline and grow the annual weekend of fur and fun, which has become one of — if not the — largest gatherings of gay bears in the nation. With days shrinking down to hours, Davis leads the Saturday meeting with a surprising amount of reserve. Then again, that may just be the calm before the storm. First on the agenda? Davis preaching the group on the benefits of Purell.

“Stay hydrated, take your vitamins and use hand sanitizer,” he announces to the collection of volunteers. “Always wash your hands, but especially during TBRU weekend.”

The jokes are obvious as giggles and heckles run the gamut, but it serves Davis’ character. He leads the group more with a parental quality than any sense of a power run amok. He merely needs his guys to be healthy enough to handle four days of celebrating the hirsute while TBRU expands.

Bears-check

HIRSUTE PURSUIT | Texas Bear Round Up has grown consistently since Wayne Davis, center, took over, resulting in staggering fundraising efforts from the Dallas Bears — $58,000 to charity in 2012.

“We’ve grown [by] about 200 [attendees] each year for the past five years,“ Davis says. “But you know, it’s not about number of attendees — we’d be just as pleased if 500 men came. We just want our guests to have the most fun and raise the most money for our charities. That’s where the compass always points.”

The nonprofit group donated a staggering $58,000 to local charities in 2012. This year, proceeds from the four-day event will go toward Youth First Texas, the

Sharon St. Cyr Fund and Resource Center Dallas’ Food and Nutrition Program.

These last few days, Davis’ time consist only of TBRU. He reluctantly admits to being tired, fearing public perceptions that could draw focus.

“We’ve always been lucky to not have many major issues,” he says, “but when there are issues, we take them offstage. Whether it’s a disagreement among us or someone with a complaint, we go behind closed doors. And once TBRU hits, we’re onstage practically 24 hours.”

Treasurer Paul Young says that it’s this attention to detail that TBRU has gained such a strong reputation.

“Under Wayne, the event has just grown and everything runs just so smoothly,” Young says. “He’s definitely done a great job with his leadership for this and the group in general.”

Some of that success can be attributed to the accommodating nature of the Round Up. Davis sticks to the model they’ve created but allows for nips and tucks, whether it’s dinner in a different location, getting rid of the game shows or bringing in entertainers, they are dedicated to figuring out what works best.

“We listen very carefully to our attendees and we ask what they want to do,” he says. “We have a good model but we have to pay attention to their critiques.

We’re always ready to change.”

Davis recalls a Saturday night dinner two years ago that went slightly awry. Even the Dallas Bears had to (re)learn not to mess with a bear and his food.

“We were at the 300 Club and we ran out of food,” he recalls. “They cooked every piece of food in that building but, well, there wasn’t portion control. The biggest joke in our club is that we’ll never have cake at TBRU again.”

Such hiccups are outweighed by the results. Yes, Texas Bear Round Up is one big party hosting hunky men from here and abroad, but Davis never forgets what it all boils down to.

“When we give those donations away and then physically see the result, all the energy and disagreements and time doesn’t matter. We can see when Youth First is able to get supplies or people getting fed, those tangible reliefs are what this is all about. This isn’t about me, it’s about all of us and I really credit the Dallas Bears and the board. My credo is fellowship, fun and lasting friendships and if we can do those and address serious needs in our community, it makes them — us — spectacular.”
Let the bears begin.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 15, 2013.