ELIZABETHTOWN — Elizabethtown’s going to be living high on the hog this weekend.
Friday and Saturday mark the inaugural occasion of Elizabethtown’s newest event — the Pork & Beats Festival.
“We started with a group of people just trying to get some kind of annual event going in Elizabethtown,” said organizer Mike Shaw. “There used to be a pork festival in Elizabethtown about 25 years ago, and we thought it would be good to bring that back.”
Things kick off Friday night when the participants in Saturday’s cook-off start getting ready. Entrants will check in Friday afternoon between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to receive their 100- to 120-pound dressed pig. After an all-night slow cook, judging will begin Saturday morning at 8 a.m., when entries will be rated for appearance, texture, tenderness, and flavor. Prizes will be awarded for first place ($300 and a trophy), second place ($200 and a trophy), and third place ($100 and a ribbon). And throughout the day Saturday, the BBQ will be available for purchase.
“You know Thanksgiving is coming up, and believe it or not, I’ve had several people call me about buying BBQ in bulk to serve Thanksgiving,” Shaw commented. “I think we’re going to do alright.”
Shaw said it’s not too late for teams to enter, which can be done by contacting him at 910-872-4349.
Organizers are hoping for such a big festival that they’ve planned for it to spill over into multiple sites. At the skateboard ramp on King Street will be the E-town Massacre, a skateboarding competition originally scheduled for October 2016 but pre-empted by Hurricane Matthew. In the intervening year, however, the reputation of the site has grown, according to Elizabethtown Planning Technician Billie Hall.
“I don’t think people realize we’re known statewide for that park,” Hall told the Town Council at its most recent meeting. “We’ve had people from Australia say they’d rather skate there than anywhere else, and people come from states all around us to use it — they just love that ramp.”
Hall said because of its popularity, she expects a big crowd for the competition, which is being sponsored by Friends of the Skatepark Foundation.
The Pork & Beats organizers are planning another competition that would be unique to Elizabethtown and will utilize its newest addition to the town’s parks — a disc golf course. Installation of the nine-hole course in Tory Hole was just completed this year and will be the site of a contest Saturday that will include naming rights to the nine holes.
Live entertainment will be taking place all day Saturday at the downtown Cape Fear Farmers Market. Dance Infinity, Neil Smith and his gospel group, Baldwin Branch men’s choir, Jane Houser, and a clogging group from Burgaw are some of the folks who will be singing and dancing for the crowd.
The entertainment will culminate Saturday afternoon with a concert by Bladen County’s own Blackwater Rhythm & Blues. A hometown favorite known for their high-energy performances, the nine-member band plays a mix of classic beach music, soul, funk, and classic R&B at clubs and festivals all along the East Coast. The group won Song of the Year in 2015 for its original tune Dance Tonight, a song that stayed on the Beach Music Smokin’ 45 chart for 22 straight weeks. That same year, the band was awarded with the Rising Star award by the Carolinas Beach Music Association. The award was followed by, in 2016, being named Group of the Year by the same entity. Blackwater Rhythm & Blues will take the stage at 4 p.m.
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig, or so goes the nursery rhyme. While shoppers may be not be able to buy pigs, they will have a variety of merchandise from which to choose. Items ranging from homemade arts and crafts, bags, and wood products will be available, and guests can pig out on food items like sausage dogs and funnel cakes.
Shaw said it’s not too late to apply for vendor spots.
“We did away with the application deadline this year so that we could really attract a lot of people and get things off the ground in a big way,” he remarked.
There will be plenty of vintage machinery on site for those that are into that as well. Cape Fear Heritage Farm Association will be displaying antique tractors, and folks will be showing off their classic cars.
“It’s just going to be a really good day and should bring a lot of people to town,” Hall commented. “We’re hoping it will build into something year after year that we can be proud of.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.