Nation’s Largest Whole-Hog Barbecue Cook-Off April 5-6


Newport, North Carolina’s annual barbecue cook-off is set for April 5 and 6, leading off a series of events that will culminate with the state championship cooking contest in Raleigh in late September.

Opening ceremonies for the 35th Annual Newport Pig Cookin’ Contest will get underway at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 5.  At 8 p.m., competitors begin firing up their equipment and the whole hogs start sizzling.  Throughout the evening’s hours, attendees will experience both the unique aromas of slow-cooked pork and some of the best music in the state.

More than 80 cooking teams will vie for top honors while a strong menu of entertainment, carnival rides and crafts for sale provides the background for a large expected crowd. The Cold Biscuit Band and the Extraordinaires will headline Friday night’s entertainment.

Judging begins at 8 a.m. Saturday and the awards ceremony is set for 1:30 p.m.  The day’s musical entertainment includes the Ryder Preston Show with its Elvis impersonator and the Seaside Band.  The entire event is being organized by the Newport Pig Cookin’ committee and profits generated by the event will be donated to charities and non-profit organizations throughout the community.

On Saturday beginning at 11 a.m., barbecue plates will be sold for $7 and barbecue will be sold in bulk for $7 a pound if available.  There is no admission to the event and parking is free.

Using judges certified by the N.C. Pork Council, the Newport show begins the season of qualification for the state’s championship cook-off which this year will be held in conjunction with the annual festival presented by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in Raleigh.

The IBMA will host the World of Bluegrass in the capital city on September 27 and 28, basically turning Raleigh’s downtown event campus (Raleigh Convention Center, Red Hat Amphitheater and Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts) into the world’s ground zero for bluegrass music.

Nancy Cardwell, executive director of IBMA, commented, “We are extremely excited to be coming to North Carolina and having the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship as part of our festivities.  It is a natural partnership and a great addition for our attendees.”

“We are very pleased to be returning the state barbecue championship to Raleigh,” said Deborah Johnson, the Pork Council’s chief executive officer.  She added, “Having the title cook-off in conjunction with the international bluegrass festival really makes for a very special occasion.”

The Pork Council, the sanctioning body for the annual N.C. Whole Hog Series held around the state leading to the championship event, announced the association.  This partnership links the title cook-off with a monster bluegrass event expected to attract a huge crowd from around the country.

Over a six-month stretch beginning in Newport, the series typically attracts more than 100,000 North Carolinians, including scores of cooking teams seeking to qualify for the championship event.  Around 30 teams typically qualify for the final competition, based on a set of criteria used by the Pork Council.