‘Hog Heaven’Published 9:07am Thursday, May 22, 2014
MURFREESBORO – It wasn’t cold enough for an old-fashioned hog killing, but it was just right for a pig picking.
Make that a pig picking 19 times over.
Under bright blue sunny skies accompanied by an unseasonably cool breeze, the 13th annual Roanoke-Chowan Pork Fest was held May 17 on the grounds of Jefcoat Museum in Murfreesboro. There, 19 of the best pork barbecue chefs slow-roasted their pigs until the skin was a golden brown.
Those taking the time to stroll down Pork Alley were greeted by the delightful smell of roasting pork. The gas-fired cookers were lit around midnight Friday as the chefs began the 10-hour process of “low and slow” cooking.
When those pigs were ready, a three-man team of NC Pork Council judges (Wayne Futrell of Murfreesboro, Joe Peterson of Roanoke Rapids, and Fred Woodard of Smithfield) visited each of the cook sites to sample the entrees. Futrell, a former competitor at the R-C Pork Fest, said the judges look for doneness, skin crispness, skin color, and the tenderness of the meat.
Five chefs were honored for their pork roasting skills led by 2014 Champion cook Ernest Twisdale of Roanoke Rapids. Twisdale mentioned that this was the second pork festival he has entered this year, and now has two first-place trophies to show for his effort.
“Maybe I need to quit while I’m ahead,” Twisdale said jokingly. “Seriously, I really like cooking here. The folks in Murfreesboro put on a good show; they’re great to work with and they have a well-organized event.”
Charles Chestnut of Sunset Beach, SC placed second followed, in order, by Bruce Daniels of Roanoke Rapids, Earl Fowler of Halifax, and Frank Gregg of Newport.
Following the judging, the pork from each cook site was minced together, seasoned with Murfreesboro’s BBQ sauce, and then served – complete with slaw, potatoes and hushpuppies – to hundreds of hungry patrons.
The event also featured a car show, a bouncing house for the kids, all types of vendor booths displaying everything from homemade breads, cakes, jewelry and pickles, plus all types of arts and crafts.
The Moonshine Band put on a great concert and kept the crowd entertained by playing country and rock n’ roll hits.
Proceeds from the Roanoke-Chowan Pork Fest benefit the Jefcoat Museum of Americana, housed at the old Murfreesboro High School.