The pickles. The barbecue. The brew. Three in one.
One festival, that is, celebrating three of the things that combine to make Mount Olive unique.
The town’s first-ever Pickles, Pigs and Swigs festival this weekend will feature Mt. Olive Pickles, craft beer from Mount Olive-based R&R Brewing and a North Carolina Pork Council-sanctioned Whole Hog Cooking Competition.
“We have a great lineup of teams cooking in the competition, including several former state champions,” event chairman Julie Beck, president of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a news release. “This event will really feature some of the best Eastern North Carolina barbecue around.”
The 20-team cooking competition will get underway Friday evening in the Mount Olive Town Hall parking lot. Judging will be Saturday morning, and the winners will be announced at 11 a.m.
Saturday’s festivities will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Southern Bank park at the corner of Center and Main, site of the 150th anniversary mural.
The festival will include live bluegrass music, free Mt. Olive Pickles, a beer garden run by R&R Brewing, antique tractors, vendors and rides on the Pickle Train.
Barbecued pork plates will be sold for $10 each beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday on Center Street and in a drive-thru at the Mount Olive Historic Depot. The drive-thru will run throughout the afternoon with access from both Main and James streets.
“We’ll have some tables and chairs set up at the corner, and we encourage folks to bring their own chairs,” Beck said. “We see this as a laid back afternoon where people can sit down, eat a plate of barbecue, have a beer, listen to live music, take in the other activities and simply enjoy a great fall afternoon.”
Wilson-based Shannon Baker and Sometime Soon will kick off the day’s musical lineup at 11 a.m. Next up will be The Harmony Boys from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Riggsbee Road, an all-female country and bluegrass band from Raleigh led by Mount Olive native Shelley Kelly, will perform from 4 to 6 p.m.
Advance tickets for the barbecue plates are available at Mount Olive Town Hall; the chamber office, 123 N. Center St.; R&R Brewing; and the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. gift shop. Plates also can be bought the day of the event, and tickets are not required.
The event is a joint effort of the chamber, the town of Mount Olive and the Mount Olive Downtown Community Development Committee. Proceeds will help fund a master plan for downtown. Major sponsors include Smithfield Foods, Mt. Olive Pickle Co., Southern Bank, Capital Chevrolet of Wake Forest and Barbara Kornegay.
“We have a great group of people working on this, and the plans are really coming together,” Beck said. “This event has generated a good bit of excitement, so we really can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.”