It started as a joke at a meeting last year of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association.
Clancy Donlin, a contractor who was chairing the Taste of Port Orchard 2014, asked Mayor Tim Matthes if they couldn’t change the name of the city for the day to Pork Orchard. Everybody laughed, then the subject of barbecue came up. Donlin, a self-described “crazy foodie” and barbecue aficionado, later was chatting with his friend Don Ryan (involved in the Port Orchard Public Market among other ventures) and they cooked up the idea (pun intended) of an event centered on barbecue.
Hog Fest 2015 is set for Sept. 20 on the Port Orchard
waterfront, and will include a “competition, meat tastings, beer
garden, root beer garden for kids, ALL DAY MUSIC with several
bands, half-time events for kids and family, Hog Rally with (Harley
riders), a professional butcher shows you how pork meat is cut into
chops and more to come…,” according to the event’s Facebook
Planning began last fall for the event, which is sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association. The Port Orchard Bay Street Association is sponsoring Hog Fest and has put up the $5,000 in prize money, to be divvied up among contestants in various categories, Donlin said. The judging is double blind, with judges provided by the association, according to their website.
Sanctioning by the association means points for professional barbecue chefs, who compete at local events like Port Orchard’s Hog Fest 2015 to qualify for regional and national events. Like rodeo, only for meat. There will be an amateur division. More on that later.
The nonprofit PNWBA has a mission “to provide education about
barbecue,” according to its website. The organization has about 700
members (one need not be a member to participate in sanctioned
events) and hosts about 40 shindigs, like Hog Fest, each year,
mostly in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, California
and western Canada, but sometimes farther afield. Top chefs and
judges have participated in events such as the Jack Daniels World
Invitational, The American Royal
and the Great American BBQ.
But back to Pork Orchard (has a nice ring, doesn’t it?).
Organizers are inviting amateurs to preliminary “satellite”
barbecue competitions, where they can qualify for Hog Fest itself.
The first one is 10 a.m. Sunday at the Red Dog Saloon in Port
Orchard. Here’s the rest of the schedule:
Aug. 8: Whiskey Creek Steakhouse, Keyport; McCloud’s Grill House & Saloon
Aug. 9: New Way Vapors, Port Orchard
Aug. 15, Al’s Market, Olalla
Aug. 30, Wig Wam Pub, Gorst
Sept. 5, McCloud’s again
Sept. 12, The 19th Hole Bar & Grill, Bremerton
Hog Fest will start out small, compared to some of the other PNWBA-sanctioned events, Donlin said. They’re not going to go whole hog, so to speak. The thought being to keep it manageable the first year of what organizers hope will become a beloved Port Orchard tradition.
“With Hog Fest, combined with our other food events, the Chocolate Festival (held in November and sponsored by Fathoms ‘O Fun) and Taste of Port Orchard (held as part of the town’s Labor Day festivities), we plan to turn Port Orchard into the culinary capital of Kitsap County,” Donlin said.
And, yes, the event has been the butt of many jokes and puns, like “praise the lard,” a phrase on one Facebook post.
Oh, wait, I’ve got one, “Hog Fest, it’s nothing to swine about.”
Think you can do better? Of course you can! Have at it.