John Ryan demonstrates how the pig butt meat will be skewered to be able to fit more in the large cinder block pit he made for Oak Harbor Pigfest. He and other festival organizers will smoke 4,000 pounds of pork in a pit that will include three additions to the one pictured. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

John Ryan demonstrates how the pig butt meat will be skewered to be able to fit more in the large cinder block pit he made for Oak Harbor Pigfest. He and other festival organizers will smoke 4,000 pounds of pork in a pit that will include three additions to the one pictured. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Pigfest goes for a record

Event founder aims for largest-ever smoke pit

Oak Harbor Pigfest will be cooking on a potentially record-breaking scale this year.

Festival founder and local chef Scott Fraser said he and other organizers are gearing up to smoke 4,000 pounds of pork, which is the most ever for the 11th annual event.

All of that pig meat will be cooked in a smoking pit built with over 1,000 cinder blocks, which Fraser hopes will get in the books as the world’s largest smoke pit of its kind.

“There’s really not a record for it yet,” he said.

As the event has grown, serving over 10,000 people last year, it has become more and more complicated to cook up enough food for everybody. Fraser said the event started with 500 pounds of pork made in five Caja China roasting boxes.

Last year, 3,200 pounds of pork were roasted using facilities at Seabolt’s Smokehouse and The BBQ Joint.

With the idea to try to cook all the meat in one place, he said they might as well coordinate with Guinness to attempt to get in the record books at the same time.

Home Depot will be donating the building materials for the smoke pit, which will be set up in the parking lot outside Pioneer Automotive. Volunteer John Ryan designed a smaller version of the pit that was used last year.

He said this year’s plans will be even better. He’s going to place the fire box inside the oven and a 12 by 22-foot sand box to keep the heat trapped inside the pit.

“This’ll make some real tasty meat,” Ryan said.

The smoke will be created by a mixture of donated wood from the island and around 400 pounds of charcoal, he said.

Approximately 20 people will help build the pit on Thursday Aug. 9.

Fraser said he’s still working on certification to get the pit into the Guinness World Records.

“It’s kind of a major thing,” he said of the time-consuming process.

But he’s not giving up.

People are welcome to watch the smoking happen, which will begin around 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11 and continue all day and night until serving time at 12 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, he said.

The pork will be flavored with a secret rub created by Steve Despopoulos.

Despopoulos, who passed away about a year and a half ago, was highly involved in the festival for a number of years, Fraser said.

“It’s kind of a special thing we’ve been using for a few years now,” he said of the secret rub recipe.

“We still do it in his memory.”

The rub will be available for purchase at the festival. And, as always, all the barbecue will be served for free, with donations going to local charities will be accepted.

Donations toward the record attempt and the festival can be submitted through Pigfest’s website, oakharborpigfest.com

John Ryan stands in front of one section of a pit that will be used to smoke pork for Oak Harbor Pigfest. Four units will be attached to create an H pattern to cook 4,000 pounds of pig butt, in what organizers hope will make it into the record books as the world’s largest cinder block smoke pit. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

John Ryan stands in front of one section of a pit that will be used to smoke pork for Oak Harbor Pigfest. Four units will be attached to create an H pattern to cook 4,000 pounds of pig butt, in what organizers hope will make it into the record books as the world’s largest cinder block smoke pit. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

John Ryan stands in front of one section of a pit that will be used to smoke pork for Oak Harbor Pigfest. Four units will be attached to create an H pattern to cook 4,000 pounds of pig butt, in what organizers hope will make it into the record books as the world’s largest cinder block smoke pit. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

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