Chapel Hill News

Hillsborough chamber cancels Hogg Day

Miles Temple helps put up signs marking a barbecue table at the annual Hillsborough Hogg Day in this file photo.
Miles Temple helps put up signs marking a barbecue table at the annual Hillsborough Hogg Day in this file photo. Pailin Wedel

There won’t be any barbecue sandwiches to munch or music to make you tap your toes when Hogg Day would normally roll around this spring.

The board of directors of the Hillsborough-Orange County Chamber of Commerce cancelled the 32nd annual event Thursday. The biggest issue was the time it took to the plan the event, executive director Margaret Wood Cannell said.

“Purely, our chamber made the decision we didn’t want to be in the festival business anymore,” she said.

Hogg Day was moved in 2010 from June to the third weekend in May because of the summer heat. It has drawn about 35,000 people to downtown Hillsborough in recent years.

“Hillsborough Hogg Day takes a minimum of six months to plan and execute,” Wood Cannell said. “The number of hours our two-person staff and small band of volunteers invests is huge. If we can allocate that time and effort to membership services and promoting economic growth, we feel certain that our members and the business community will benefit.”

However, they are willing to help if someone steps forward to keep the festival going, she said. It was never unsuccessful, she said.

The decision came in time to remove the festival from the county’s 2014 Visitors Guide, which was sent to the printer Friday, said Laurie Paolicelli, executive director of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau.

Paolicelli said the decision is a loss for the community, but it was not unexpected. The chamber hinted at the possibility last year, she said.

“We recognize the enormous time and energy that goes into a festival,” she said.

The county has 30 to 40 festivals each year, so there’s always something to do, Paolicelli said. The Orange County Board of Commissioners also talked last year about reinstating a county fair. The decision is likely to come up when that discussion continues this year, she said.

The county commissioners return to their regular meeting schedule Jan. 23.

Hogg Day began in 1982 as an Independence Day celebration and fundraiser for the Hillsborough Area Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, it had become the county’s biggest event and, more recently, its “greenest” festival, with up to 85 percent of the waste it produced being recycled.

Last year’s 31st anniversary event celebrated with a new name – Hogg Day – to honor James Hogg, a Scottish merchant who moved to North Carolina in 1774. Hogg became a partner in the Transylvania Co., a UNC trustee and a patriot leader. His home was located near the Hogg Day site at River Park, and he is buried just two blocks away.

The Hillsborough-Orange County Chamber of Commerce is a private, nonprofit group supported by membership dues and private fund-raising efforts.