For the first time in 10 years, Pig in the Park completely sold out of barbecue.
Hundreds of people flocked to the Old Waynesborough Park for a full plate of barbecue prepared by barbecue cook teams across the state Saturday afternoon. The fundraiser, which benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County in Goldsboro, Fremont and Mount Olive, sold out of barbecue plates before 1 p.m.
“It rained all night last night, but we’ve had very gracious cook teams,” said Jacqueline Kannan, development director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wayne County.
“Aside from the wet and the damp and the mud, the event is also very exciting. People are having a good time, and the barbecue here is already starting to move.”
The 10th annual Pig in the Park barbecue competition and festival was one for the books.
With hundreds of people enjoying barbecue, listening to live music, shopping and playing in the kids’ zone, there was something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Alvaro Ramirez, 11, and his brother, Chris Ramirez, 5, especially enjoyed the bouncy slide in the kid’s zone. It was their first year attending the barbecue festival with their father, and while they were looking forward to eating their fill of pork, they were having a great time running up and jumping down the bouncy slide.
Lewis McDougald, with Big Hawg Catering, and Rick Naylor, with Rick’s BBQ, were working in their adjoining tents diligently, helping each other occasionally. McDougald, who was participating in the festival’s competition for the sixth year, said he enjoyed the small cookoff.
Naylor agreed, but added he enjoyed interacting with the people who came to the festival.
Winners of the Boss Hog contest, also known as Kiss the Pig, were announced later in the festival. The contest pits local celebrities against each other in an effort to raise money and a chance to kiss Maxwell, the 2019 baby pig representing Maxwell Foods.
Reining Boss Hog Tonya Barber had to hand over her crown this year to first place winner Bob Bass, who raised $3,735 for the Boys and Girls Club through Kiss the Pig. Second place winner was Diane Belmont and third place went to Barber.
In total, Kiss the Pig raised $6,241.
“They have worked so hard,” said Erin Fonseca, Goldsboro downtown development promotions coordinator. “From March 4 to April 5, they diligently raised funds for this cause.”
“They really worked hard.”
Ten professional barbecue cooking teams from across the state participated in the North Carolina Pork Council competition, and four teams competed in a backyard division. The N.C. Pork Council judged both divisions of the competition.
Porky’s Defense earned first place in the professional cooking team competition. Second place went to Bull Pen BBQ and third place went to Big Hawg Catering.
In the backyard division, Big Belly’s Cooking Team took home the gold with first place. Second place was awarded to Brew Sauce and third place went to Wayne Community College.
A new feature introduced to the festival was People’s Choice Award. Festival-goers who purchased a wristband had the opportunity to taste pork from each of the cook teams and name a winner. The winner of the People’s Choice Award earns bragging rights for the whole year, Kannan said.
“Every year people have asked us, they always come and they mill about, they’re lookin’ at the pigs and they want to eat,” Kannan said. “This is a way to engage the cook teams a little bit more with the festival-goers and allow them to be a part of the event as well.
“The People’s Choice helps us grow the revenue for the event without increasing the number of hogs because we have so much meat available at the end of it.”
Big Belly’s Cooking Team, led by Robert Radford, took home this year’s People’s Choice Award.