RIDGEWAY — This weekend marks the 15th annual Pig on the Ridge festival in Ridgeway and, according to estimates from previous years, nearly 45,000 people will descend into Ridgeway’s town limits — made up of just 400 residents.
The county-wide and state-famous festival will be held in front of the Century House on Dogwood Avenue.
Pig on the Ridge has been one of the highest attended festivals in the state in seven of the past eight years. Last year, it was the largest cook-off in the state with 75 cook teams and will be the largest again this year with 76 cook teams.
Participating teams are from South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Pig on the Ridge has been the state’s largest cook-off in nine of the past 10 years.
The festival’s steering committee has purchased 1,088 Boston Butts as well as 16 butterfly hogs for the festivities. Ridgeway Mayor Charlene Herring is confident any barbecue lover can find a taste to please their taste buds this weekend.
“I always tell people that they can get any kind of barbecue they want, whether it be vinegar based, mustard based or ketchup based,” she stated. “It is a great family-fun event.”
The top three cook teams in the state will be competing at this year’s Pig on the Ridge.
The public can buy tickets at three designated booths and then use the tickets to redeem samples from the cook teams on both Friday and Saturday.
Friday night the cook teams will cook their best dish without pork.
Tickets must be purchased at ticket booths for all food sold at cook-team stations and trimmings tent, there will be no cash purchases at cook tents.Food tickets are good both days and trimmings tickets are good for Saturday only.
A Pig on the Ridge champ will be crowned at 2 p.m. Saturday after 88 certified judges have weighed in.
There will be two categories that cook teams will compete in: Category 1 is for a professional who has competed in two or more competitions and Category 2 is for an amateur who has competed in less than two competitions.
Tom Connor, chairman of the steering committee, encouraged attendees to show up promptly at 9:30 a.m. Saturday when judging ends because samples are only provided while supplies last. He estimated that supplies would not last any longer than three hours.
Connor has been chairman of the steering committee since the inception in 1999. The intention was for the Pig on the Ridge festival to celebrate Ridgeway’s 200-year anniversary as a town, but gained enough popularity to continue the festival.
“Our mission is to do this as a family-friendly festival to create and renew relationships and expose Ridgeway as a town to live, shop and visit,” Connor noted.
Over the last two years, the committee has donated $6,600 to a toy fund to help supply needy children with presents during the Christmas season. They will also donate $300 to the 21 churches that volunteered to help staff the festival. The Pig on the Ridge committee was also the largest donor to the restoration of the Century House.
“This festival does something for the community to then give back to the community,” Connor said. “It shows what can be done when a community comes together with a common mission for the betterment of the community.”
Since its inception, the steering committee has donated $135,00 to community endeavors.
“This is a great community event and the proceeds will go towards benefiting the community,” Herring noted. “Whether it is for fire equipment or the churches, Pig on the Ridge gives back to the community.”
There will also be 100 antique cars on display at the classic car show and 50 to 60 arts and crafts vendors.
On Friday, the “No Pigs Allowed” themed cook off will go from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., followed by a street party on Dogwood Drive from 7:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. and a shag dance on Palmer Street from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.
On Saturday, the barbecue contest will begin at 9:30 a.m. and go until the cook teams have sold out. The classic/antique car display will start at 10 a.m. on Dogwood Drive. The 15th annual Pig on the Ridge will end will the awards ceremony at 2 p.m.