High on the Hog: Pig on the Ridge Starts Tonight!

The annual two-day Pig on the Ridge barbecue festival kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m. in historic downtown Ridgeway and will last through Saturday.

The festival is not only Ridgeway’s biggest festival of the year, but it has been the largest barbecue festival in the state for five out of the last six years. It is recognized by the World Food Championships in Las Vegas as a premier barbecue cooking event in the U. S. according to Tom Connor, one of the festival’s organizers.

Connor said he expects this year’s crowd to top the others.

Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. with food sales (but no pig – that’s reserved for Saturday), children’s activities and craft sales. Street dancing begins at 7:30 p.m. and lasts until 11:30 p.m.

With more than 80 barbecue vendors cooking through the night in the town’s historic cotton yard, the air throughout the town will be filled with delightful aromas from the ‘kitchens.’

Saturday is barbecue day with judging beginning at 9:30 a.m.  and lunch beginning about 11 a.m.

Connor said there are usually three kinds of barbecue available and he offers some general, though not fool-proof, tips for finding the right sauce.

“If you’re looking for pepper vinegar barbecue sauce,” he explained, “then you’ll want to find a vender from the Lowcountry. For mustard-based sauce, look for a Midlands area vendor. For those who like red, Texas-style sauce, that’s usually available from vendors from the Piedmont area, Greenville and upstate vendors.”

But no matter what kind of sauce, the 8 tons of barbecue Boston Butts, will go quickly as thousands of hungry festival goers line up at the vendors’ counters.

There will be music all day Saturday featuring DJ and Town Council member Donald Prioleau plus lots of local and regional talent.

There will be a hog-calling contest, classic/antique car displays, awards, craft vendors and more (for a schedule of events,  see ad on page 5).

But Connor said the
barbecue weekend, which began in 1999 as a family and friends festival to bring folks to Ridgeway to shop and visit, is more than fun and barbecue. He said it benefits the community in many ways.

“We’ve raised more than $125,000 over the years and it has all gone back into the community to benefit children and families who need a helping hand as well as some of our community organizations who serve our residents,” Connor said.

“We’ve spent $6,600 for special safety equipment for the  town’s volunteer fire department and $10,000 on the restoration of the historic Century House. We’re also helping to replace the town’s welcome signs with money from the festival.”

These and other  worthwhile community projects are made possible by an all-volunteer festival staff.

“Everyone pitches in,” Connor said. “It’s meaningful that a small community like ours can come together to better itself in a way that brings so much enjoyment to thousands of visitors.  We plan for it all year and then we work hard to make it happen.”

“We’re proud of our little town,” Connor said. “And we especially enjoy showcasing it with this festival every year.

“The goal of the festival is to do good,” Connor said. “And we invite everyone from the surrounding communities to come out and enjoy the weekend with us.”

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]