Pork Festival closes another successful year
By Jesse Witt
Pork was only one of the many things that brought visitors to the annual Preble County Pork Festival. Those in attendance were able to browse the hundreds of crafts made by vendors across the country, as well as enjoy the performances of local and regional acts alike.
This year’s Pork Festival was dedicated in memory of Paul E. Ray, who recently passed away and was a founding member of the festival.
“We lost him Monday, he died suddenly,” said festival coordinator Nancy Huggins. “He and his wife Linda were our exhibitor co-chairmen. We worked really hard, everyone shifted and covered jobs to get everything done. There was a terrific effort to make this thing happen through that tragedy.”
Sales for this year’s festival were fairly close to their norms, according festival officials. While some areas of the festival were down, others numbers were up from previous years.
“Saturday we were a little short in breakfast and smorgasbord sales,” said Huggins. “People were buying the raw pork products. We sold out of almost everything Saturday night. There was a difference in how people purchased things this year.”
As far as festival vendors, “we were full,” said Huggins. “We sold all of our booths.”
Thanks to the search efforts leading up to the festival, the event featured “85 new vendors this year,” said Huggins. “This past winter we did an Internet search and really made an effort to contact new vendors of all different mediums. I think that was effective. We had 15 different states represented.”
Some of the new states represented included California, Arizona, Minnesota, Delaware, Georgia, New York and Missouri. “We had more than 360 different vendors, with 650 booths available. Some vendors require more than one booth,” said Huggins.
Entertainment for this year’s festival was similar to year’s past. Festival goers were able to enjoy the performances of festival regulars Eric Loy, the McMechan/Reed Magic Show and the a cappella group Tonic Sol Fa. The entertainment tent also featured several new acts such as a karate demonstration and performances by the Knotwork Flutes, and West Alexandria sisters Adelee and Gentry.
It wouldn’t quite be a Pork Festival without its staple, the Pig Races, which were shown throughout the day. Other festival attractions included a chainsaw art demonstration and a petting zoo.
Everyone in Preble County knows of the Pork Festival, but many festival goers travel from the other nearby cities and counties to partake in the activities.
Steve and Carrol Mallicot of Hamilton are regular Pork Festival visitors. “We come here every year for the atmosphere and always purchase fresh pork. We’ve been here for a couple hours and we’re just getting started.”
Preble County natives can’t resist what the festival has to offer either and many of them are willing to deal with the long lines of the smorgasbord and short order to get their share of pork chops.
Karen and Kelly Cassidy of Gratis said they’ve been to the festival many times. “Our favorite things are the sugar cream pie and of course we love the pork chops. We’ll be buying some of the crafts today and we plan on listening to Tonic Sol Fa later this evening. They’re awesome.”
Much of the success of the festival is due to the work of the volunteers who participate every year.
“We love our volunteers, we had at least 1200 volunteers,” said Huggins. “We appreciate everyone for helping like they did. They did a great job. Everyone from the Boy Scouts to the various FFA chapters in the surrounding schools.”
For what appears to be another successful year, festival officials want to thank everyone who helped make its success possible.