Mount Olive BBQ Cook-off, Fall Festival Return October 28-29

Mount Olive BBQ Cook-off, Fall Festival Return October 28-29

MOUNT OLIVE—The smell of pork barbecue cooking on grills will once again waft over downtown Mount Olive when Pickles, Pigs & Swigs, presented by Smithfield Foods, returns in October.

The second annual event is set for Friday and Saturday, October 28-29.

The N.C. Pork Council-sanctioned whole hog barbecue cook-off gets underway Friday evening. The Saturday festival, featuring a BBQ plate sale, runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The day will also feature live music, craft beer from R&R Brewing, and free Mt. Olive Pickles. Local vendors, the Pickle Train, and agricultural equipment displays are also planned.

Julie Beck, president of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, said last year’s inaugural event was a great success, and this year’s event will be even better.

“That was the first cook-off we’d ever done, and we learned a lot,” she said. “We had a good turnout, and people had a great time. We are dill-lighted to be planning it again.”

After donating the pigs for the competition last year, Smithfield Foods is on board this year as presenting sponsor – “we are so grateful for their support,” Ms. Beck said. “Smithfield is just a great community partner.”

Event additions include a limited number of 10 x 10 spaces that will be available for festivalgoers to reserve for the day, where folks can bring their own chairs, tables and tents for that space and enjoy the afternoon of food and music. A festival website is also in development.

While those details and others are in the works, Pickles, Pigs & Swigs currently seeks cook teams for the BBQ competition. The field for this first year will be limited to 20 teams, and teams will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Event organizers are also seeking general festival sponsors.

Those interested in teams or sponsorships can apply and pay online at Forms for download and print, with payment by check, are also available at that link or by calling the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce at 919-658-3113.

The festival this year is a little earlier in the fall, and Ms. Beck said organizers are trying to find the right weekend.

“We moved the date from late November last year – the weekend before Thanksgiving – to the last weekend of October this year,” Ms. Beck said. “We realized our November date conflicted with family gatherings for those who celebrated Thanksgiving early. So we’ll try Halloween weekend this year and see how it goes.”

As last year, proceeds from the festival will benefit the Mount Olive Community Development Corporation, which is working toward a master plan for downtown’s future.