Weekend’s Pigfest is cooking up new events

The island’s biggest barbecue will have new activities, different bands and thousands of pounds of delicious pig butt.

Event founder Scott Fraser and volunteers will be smoking 3,400 pounds of pork at the 12th annual Pigfest, which starts at noon Sunday in Oak Harbor. In addition to a free lunch, visitors can summon their inner ninja warrior to try and scale the new warped wall. There also will be games and a children’s climbing wall.

Joe T. Cook Blues Band hits the stage at 12:10 p.m. and Penny Stinkers go on at 3 p.m.

Pork is cooked and served in the parking lot of Pioneer Automotive Services, where the new 1,000-gallon propane-converted-to-smoker will be on display. Fraser said the barbecue, which was built by local volunteers Jeremy Gourley and Joe Hamilton, will be used at future Pigfests and for the community harvest Thanksgiving dinner turkeys. Home Depot donated $1,000 in parts to help build the smoker, and Gourley and Hamilton put well over 200 hours into it, Fraser said.

“This new barbecue is our biggest and best,” he said.

Although approximately 10,000 people are fed at the event each year, the lines shouldn’t dissuade hungry event goers, he said.

“Even when the line is a block or so long, the wait is really minimal,” he said.

The pork is slow cooked starting on Saturday night and seasoned with a rub created by one of the festival’s founding members. Steve Despopulous, who died three years ago, developed “Steve’s Butt Rub,” used for the last few years.

Donations collected at the event go toward local nonprofits; last year Pigfest organizers gave out $20,000.

In addition to cooking for compassionate causes, things will also get a little competitive. Pit masters will duke it out on barbecue for a $5,000 grand prize and $1,000 to the best local during the BBQ Competition.

The extra hungry can participate in the pie- and wing- eating contests, happening at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively. The day’s events end around 4:30 p.m.

Volunteers are needed to help cleanup after the event, Fraser said. Those who are signed up to help with the event have their own line for food.

To get involved in Pigfest, call Maria McGee at 360-672-1781.

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