Hog Day is coming home this year, organizers say, but not until September.
The annual festival was a staple of Hillsborough summers for 31 years until the Hillsborough-Orange County Chamber of Commerce cancelled it in 2014 to dedicate more time to promoting economic growth and membership services.
The Orange County Optimist Club and the Efland Ruritan Club stepped in, moving the festival to Efland that summer with its Friday Night Homecoming and barbecue cookoff pitting teams of veteran grillmasters against each other for the top prize.
“The club appreciated the outpouring of support from the Efland Ruritan Club and the Efland community for hosting this event over the past two years,” Hog Day Chairman Sam Hobgood said, “It was not an easy decision but seems like the right decision for the future of the festival.”
The decision to return to Hillsborough came after months of discussion, organizers said. They decided to move the June festival to Sept. 16-17 to take advantage of cooler weather. The festival will be held in River Park in downtown Hillsborough.
“We wanted to make it where people could stick around for hours and hours,” Optimist Club President Craig Lloyd said.
Lloyd credited the festival’s success over the past two years to its support from volunteers, local businesses and community groups, many of whom have wanted to bring it back to Hillsborough. The town and other key partners will be involved over the coming months, he said, and they’re also looking for business sponsors and more nonprofits, schools and other groups to participate.
The volunteer-run festival has raised thousands of dollars so far to support local programs and services, including the Ronald McDonald House, Moose Lodge children’s programs and to sponsor needy children at Christmas, he said.
“There are many other new enhancements and additions to the festival that we will unveil between now and the fall event,” Lloyd said. “We will need the support from volunteers and the business community now more than ever to keep this tradition alive for generations to come.”