A group of Orange County residents have made it their mission to bring back the Hog.
They hope to keep the 32-year tradition of the Hillsborough Hog Day Festival going. Their tentative theme this year will be “Bringing home the bacon.”
The event, which is Orange County’s largest festival incorporating food, music and other activities, was hosted by the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce. However, the group decided to cancel it in January.
The Chamber’s board said it was supposed to be a fundraiser for the organization, but the undertaking had become too large for a small staff to handle.
Craig Lloyd, who is helping to organize efforts to bring the Festival back, recently retired as the Executive Director of the Hillsborough/ Orange County Chamber of Commerce and also ran the event for about six years.
“We actually started this as soon as we heard that the Chamber was looking at cancelling it this year. We kind of put together an all-star team of veterans, volunteers and supporters of Hog Day from over the years.”
That team includes Joe Crews, who helped to found Hog Day; Jim Dooley, who served as Chairman of the event; and Jeff Woods, owner of Carolina Game & Fish in Hillsborough, who helped in past barbecue operations.
“We all have a passion and a love for our community and this festival. It has meant a lot to us.”
Hog Day will likely be held at the Occoneechee Speedway on Elizabeth Brady Rd., which is run by the Historic Speedway Group, he said.
The goal this year, Llloyd explained, is to bring back some of the original elements of the festival. The plan is to move it back to the third weekend in June.
“We are kind of bringing back the old team and a lot of the things that we used to do way back when, from the old, fun contests like the Hog Hollerin’ contest that I think people will be excited about.”
Lloyd said the group is currently looking for sponsors, volunteers, vendors and crafters to help make Hog Day a reality.
Since creating the firstname.lastname@example.org address, he shared that the group has received more than 500 emails from people expressing interest in helping out.
CHAPEL HILL – More than 12,000 people are expected to gather for 31st Annual Hillsborough Hogg Day coming up this weekend—WCHL’s Ron Stutts will emcee part of the day Saturday. And there are some new surprises in store this year.
The festival is happening Friday from 6 – 10 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., at the River Park at 140 E. Margaret Lane behind the Courthouse in downtown Hillsborough. Admission is free.
‘There are good days when you go to Hillsborough just to walk around and experience a town—but then there are those days when it’s great to visit Hillsborough and Hog Day is one of those days,” said Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens.
Margaret Cannell is the Executive Director of the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce. She says Hogg Day’s impact of the Town is more than just a good time— it’s Orange County’s largest festival of the year.
“They can see how beautiful Hillsborough is and then they will continue to come back,” Cannell said. “They’ll spend some money and maybe even think about moving here and moving their businesses here. Hogg Day improves our local economy.”
It’s also the Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce’s biggest fundraiser
“It’s going to be a great event with lots of fun family activities and we are really excited about it. It brings in people not only who live here all the time but it also brings people from other locations our beautiful town,” Cannell said.
But this year—there are some changes.
Hog Heaven Barbecue out of Durham is providing the spotlighted dish.
“We’ve had a problem before with BBQ running-out. The earliest we’ve run out is around 2 p.m. on Saturday and we saw a lot of disappointed people. But this year, we will not run out! The person who is provided it is a professional BBQ-maker and he will have plenty cooked-up and ready to go,” she said.
Cannell says there will be twice the number of food vendors.
Food trucks are another new feature this year—including Baguettaboutit, Tar Heel Creamery, and Caps of Pizza to name a few. They’ll be out both days.
The way you buy the food is different—you’ll purchase tickets or Hogg Dollars, costing either $1 or $5 dollars. The Hogg Dollars will be redeemable at all food vendor booths throughout the event. No cash will be accepted.
There’s also one more thing.
“There was a name change in that we added an extra G to Hogg. The festival has, for 30 years, celebrated BBQ and it will still celebrate BBQ but it will also be a salute to the Town of Hillsborough’s Colonial Heritage,” Cannell said.
The extra G is a salute to James Hogg— a merchant who left his native Scotland in 1774, moved to North Carolina, and became a partner in the Transylvania Company, a Trustee of the University of North Carolina and a leader in patriot activity.
You can also check-out the musical performers, the car show and the cook-off. And for festival goers over 21—there’s a beer garden, so bring your blanket or chair and kick back.
For more information on all the festivities happening at Hillsborough Hogg Day, click here.
Directions and Parking Information:
- To get to Hillsborough Hogg Day, from I-85 take exit 164 or from I-40 take exit 261.
- Parking is limited in downtown Hillsborough but there is parking available for free in the Eno River Parking Deck behind the Weaver Street Market off Churton Street.
- Designated handicap parking is available.