You can’t keep a good Hog Day down

06/17/2014 12:00 AM

06/15/2014 12:49 PM

Volunteers are bringing the bacon home to Efland this year for Orange County’s 32nd annual Hog Day festival.

The two-day event starts Friday evening at the Efland Ruritan Club, a 20-minute drive from Chapel Hill located at the intersection of U.S. 70 West and Forrest Avenue East in Efland.

This year’s highlights include a Saturday car show, plus music, vendors, games and the original Hog Day barbecue cookoff pitting teams of veteran grillmasters against each other for the top prize.

Barbecue will be sold to the public on Saturday.

Hog Day started in 1982 as an Independence Day celebration and fundraiser for the Hillsborough-Orange County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber organized the event until it was canceled in January. Former executive director Margaret Wood Cannell said the chamber’s two-person staff decided the six months spent planning the festival could be better spent promoting economic growth and membership services.

In recent years, Hog Day has attracted about 35,000 people to Hillsborough. In 2013, it was renamed Hogg Day in honor of James Hogg, a Scottish merchant and patriot leader who arrived in North Carolina in 1774.

Hogg’s home was located near River Park in downtown Hillsborough, and he is buried just two blocks away in the Old Town Cemetery.

In February, a group of volunteers got together to keep Hog Day going. The newly formed Hog Day Committee revived the festival’s former name, started looking for sponsors and a new location, and talked with local nonprofits, schools and others about returning to its roots.

The money raised this year will fund grants for local projects, programs and nonprofits, organizers said. Eventually, organizers would like to make the festival self-funded. One of the first steps was establishing the Optimist Club of Orange County in April, they said.

Craig Lloyd, the club’s president and vice chairman of the Hog Day Committee, said the club could help the committee attain nonprofit status faster and make it eligible to apply for grant money.

The Optimist Club also is working with the Efland Ruritan Club to host this year’s festival, he said.

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