After cooking for 12 hours and serving barbecue samples for another five, Jeff Whitney looked forward to going home, taking a nap and eating a salad.
Whitney and partner Frank Vogler represented one of the teams that participated Friday in the 29th Annual Hillsborough Hog Day festival, an event sponsored by the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce.
“It takes me three days to get the smell of smoke off my hair,” Whitney said. “I won’t be eating barbecue after this.”
The festival, held at River Park in Hillsborough, featured live music, children’s games, vendors, crafts, Hog Day souvenirs and a wide assortment of different food.
The Triangle Thunder Cruisers, Durham’s premier vintage car club, also put on the area’s largest classic auto show as part of the Hog Day celebration, featuring hot rods, street rods and classic automobiles.
But the main event began on Friday evening when 32 teams from all over the state competed for the awards of best all-around barbecue and the People’s Choice Award.
The teams cooked about 3,500 pounds of pork over the twelve hour course of the competition.
Whitney and Vogler, who traveled from Clemmons to be in the festival, were one of five teams chosen to compete for the People’s Choice Award.
Even though they lost the competition to David Burch and Chip Lewis from Rougemont, Whitney said he still enjoyed the festival.
“The main reason I like this is that it’s slow cooking so you can sit down and socialize with the people and have a beverage of your choice,” Whitney said.
The festival attracted visitors from all over the state and required about 200 volunteers.
Margaret Cannell, executive director of the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce, said the festival brought in about $12,000 this year and served as the organization’s most profitable fundraiser.
Cannell said Hog Day is also the county’s largest festival, hosting about 15,000 people this year.
“I think people enjoy the event because it’s free, it’s good food, good vendors, good rides,” she said.
“I think people really enjoy just being in Hillsborough and enjoy the outdoors that day.”
The festival has traditionally been held on the third week in June, but was moved to May 20 and 21 this year because of the hot weather, Cannell said.
“Everybody seemed to be really happy about it being a little bit cooler than in previous years,” Cannell said.
“I think we will definitely continue to do it in May.”
Cannell said the organization continues to host the festival every year because it is a good source of additional revenue, but also because it has become a tradition in the county.
“It’s such a big part of the community now,” she said. “The irony is that there is not a single hog farm in Orange County.”
Chip Venable, a UNC alumnus and Hillsborough resident, brings his kids, Hannah and Preston, to the festival every year, he said.
“The kids really love it,” he said. “They love the rides and the balloons and I like to have my barbecue.”
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