Come Out, Hang Out and Pig Out!

The brains behind the barbecue, Pig on the Ridge organizers Henry Dixon, Tom Connor, Rufus Jones and Donald Prioleau will stay on task and on the golf cart throughout the Pig on the Ridge festivities this weekend in Ridgeway.

Round about this time every year, folks in Fairfield County, Blythewood and beyond get a strange gleam in their eyes. They tie on their napkins and head to the Town of Ridgeway where an important little to-do called Pig on the Ridge has been known to happen. This is the festival’s 15th consecutive year.

Pig on the Ridge provides a great event for the community, raising funds to support community projects. Most especially, the festival funds Christmas gifts for needy children in the community. Founding committee member Tom Connor estimates that over the years Pig on the Ridge has funneled about $130,000 into the Ridgeway community – toys for the kids, much needed equipment for the fire department, Welcome to Ridgeway signs for the town and major contributions to the restoration of the Century House.

Pig on the Ridge 2013 begins on Friday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. with the cook teams showing off their cooking skills with their best Friday night no-pork dishes until about 8:30. Fistfuls of tickets that can be exchanged for samples of these delights go on sale Friday night for $1.50 each. Many a food fan will be wandering up and down the Cotton Yard, grazing their way along the booths. The tickets can also be redeemed for barbecue on Saturday. According to Tom Connor, there will be 78 cook teams from South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia competing during the Saturday barbecue contest.

A shag dance will be held from 7-10 p.m. over on Palmer Street and a street party from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. will kick off on Dogwood Drive.

But let’s admit it; Pig on the Ridge is all about the ‘Que, and mighty good barbecue it is, too. On Friday night, the cook teams will receive their supplies of whole pigs and Boston butts for the next morning’s contest. They’ll begin cooking and smoking their butts and pigs that night and will probably be up all night tending to them. Connor said he anticipates about 1,100 Boston butts will be cooked and 16 butterflied whole hogs.

On Saturday, judges certified by the S.C. BBQ Association (yes, there really is one) will judge the barbecue in all its forms beginning at 9:30 a.m. Bill Rogers, one of the SCBBQA founding members and a certified judge since 2005, reckons he has judged about 30 contests around the state and is a regular guest at Pig on the Ridge.

“Pig on the Ridge is one of the oldest and most well-respected barbecue contests in the state, particularly because you have a mixture of amateur and professional cook team categories. The judges will be coming from across the state,” Rogers said.

He said there will be a good variety of types of ‘Que, including vinegar-based, mustard-based and the traditional Texas ketchup-based.

“Good barbecue is like good wine; you should eat what you like,” Rogers said, though he recommends that barbecue eaters tend to step out of their comfort zone and try different styles. He also said good barbecue will have the “bark,” the browned outside of the meat showing the cookers know what their ‘Que is all about.

On Saturday, children’s activities will also crank up and craft booths will line the streets. But what will have most folks salivatin’ and standin’ is the sale of barbecue, which will begin once the barbecue judging has been done. Folks will have a chance to load up on the best barbecue this side of Memphis. DJ Don Prioleau (one of the Pig on the Ridge organizers), along with other local talent, will provide music to buy barbecue by.

At 10 a.m. the classic/antique car display on Dogwood Drive will open to receive visitors who want to gaze at Detroit’s finest from days gone by.

But remember, this festival is all about the pig, and you’ll be reminded of that at about 12:30 noon when the hog calling contest starts. Then at 1 p.m. our brave emergency workers and public safety workers will receive a much-deserved salute and the classic cars and bikes will take part in a cruise-by and Pig on the Ridge 2013 will be capped off at 2 p.m. with the awards ceremony. After that, the barbecue that you purchased that day will be your only reminder of two great days in Ridgeway, unless you were lucky enough to take home a trophy, or some great local crafts. See you in line!

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