Hillsborough Hog Days
Updated 2/2011: Thanks to notice from you awesome blog readers, we have confirmed and received a press announcement that Hog Days will be the 3rd Saturday in May from here on out! Makes sense to me since North Cackalacky summers can be hoooot.
What do us North Carolinians like better than college basketball? Good ole pork barbecue. That's why my family was so excited about the Hillsborough Hog Days this weekend.
Hillsborough Hog Days is good old fashioned family fun. Held in downtown Hillsborough at River Park, the main feature of the festival is a barbecue cook-off. Celebrity judges taste and decide on the best pork barbecue in town. (By the way, one of the judges was Matthew of Matthew's Chocolates and dang if I don't trust him!)
But beyond the main event, there are a lot of other things here.
Near the pork-tastin', there is a large pavilion with fans and acoustic accompaniment during part of the day. If pork isn't your thing, there are other vendors (cash only) that sell gyros, pitas, falafel (very Greek for a southern shin-dig), and other carnival-type foods. Outside of these vendors, all barbecue and beverages are purchased via tickets only. Tickets are sold at select tents. $1 per ticket, 1 ticket for beverages (no adult beverages sold) and 4 tickets for barbecue.
There is a main stage with bands of all styles rotating in. There is everything from beach music to bluegrass, with some shade to sit in or room to dance. It is predominantly local talent, so it is always fun.
For kids, there is an entire area of bounces and inflatable slides. Alas, these cost to get in. It is a ticket system again. $1 for 1 ticket for 1 activity (time limited), but $10 gets you an unlimited play wristband. Kids have to wait in line to play, and there were some long lines forming, so it isn't for the most impatient of children, but all the kids seemed to be having a great time.
While you wait, pony rides are available! Again, it costs you, but the line there seemed shorter. And there are 4 ponies scooting around, ready to go, so the line moves fast.
There are also contests such as pig calling, guess the weight of the pig, corntoss games, and so on. We had a hard time figuring out when these were held, but you might do better than us at that.
If shopping is your thing, Hillsborough Hog Days offers many, many booths with vendors selling various wares. There are tons of Silly Bands/z to be had, jewelry, tutus, and other crafts.
Triangle Thunder Cruisers also hosts the area's largest antique and classic car show at Hillsborough Hog Days. I, personally, am not all that into cars and engines, but it seems like a perfect fit for a Father's Day weekend. I couldn't believe how many cars were there, and how different they all were.
So yes, lots to be had at Hillsborough Hog Days. I do have to say that the barbecue portion was a little confusing and disappointing, to be honest. There was 1 large tent, and some smaller tents, all serving sandwiches. When it came time to eat, DH wanted to try out the winning 'que. But it was not possible. From what we learned, the smaller tents were all private vendors. The big tent held the contest entries, but when we went to try it, it turns out that they had mixed together all of the barbecue, so it was a hodge-podge.
Jogging strollers work here, and you might be able to make your umbrella stroller work if it has big wheels. Lots of this takes place in a grassy field.
Parking in Hillsborough for Hog Days can get cramped, but everyone was able to find a spot (you may have to pay). In the past Hillsborough has run a shuttle service to Hog Days, but I believe that this year, given the downtown location of the event, they decided not to.
Entry to the event is free but, as you may have noticed from the information above, you end up paying for a lot of activities and all the food. Bring blankets or chairs. And prepare for the sun and heat.
No pets (although we did see a woman walking a pet pig on a leash). We could not find rules about coolers, but didn't see anyone bringing them in and there are plenty of concessions available. No alcohol.
Hillsborough Hog Days
held annually the third Saturday in June