St. John firemen prep for Pork Fest

Published 1:57 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ST. JOHN – It’s a place where one eastern North Carolina tradition meets another.

‘Carolina-style barbecue and beach music will join forces on Saturday, May 23 as the St. John Fire Department (SJFD) hosts its fifth annual Pork Fest at Tri-County Airport.

Advance tickets, priced at $25 each, are going fast. SJFD Chief Wesley Liverman urges those wishing to purchase a ticket to do so immediately before the supply runs out.

“We normally sell a bunch of tickets the week leading up to our Pork Fest,” Liverman said.

Those tickets are available at St. John’s Karts in “downtown” St. John, Ace Hardware in Murfreesboro, at Southern Bank locations in Ahoskie, Murfreesboro, Woodland, Gatesville, Roanoke Rapids and Scotland Neck or from any SJFD firefighter.

To reserve a ticket by phone, call 332-4431.

As is tradition, SJFD members will fire-up their trusty cookers and grill 10 pigs to perfection. That cooked pork will then be chopped, seasoned and served with potatoes, slaw and corn sticks to the hungry mob of patrons attending the event.

Beverages offered include sweet tea, soft drinks and beer (ages 21 and over).

The meal will be served from 6-8 p.m.

But there’s more to Pork Fest than barbecue and beverage.

At 7 p.m., the Band of Oz brings its high-energy act to the stage. Formed in 1967, the band went full-time 10 years later and hasn’t slowed down since. Featuring a full horn section, this eight-member group plays a variety of music, including a strong influence of Beach Music. They are one of the top acts on the beach concert scene in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia.

“They are very well-known and very popular throughout the southern states,” Liverman said. “They are one of the reasons our Pork Fest is so popular because they always have a huge following of fans. We’ll have folks drive from as far away as Chesapeake and Virginia Beach to our Pork Fest.”

During the scheduled 9:30 p.m. break for the band, the night sky over Tri-County Airport will be filled with colorful pyrotechnics as a giant fireworks show is planned.

Patrons are urged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and settle in for an evening of fantastic food and great entertainment.

“This is a family-oriented event, so bring your kids out for a fun night,” Liverman said. “In the past, families have come in, spread out their blankets, fill their plates with food and enjoyed a night filled with music and fireworks.”

Proceeds from the event assist the St. John firefighters with their operating expenses.

“This is our main fundraiser of the year,” Liverman noted. “The money we net from Pork Fest is about one third of our overall budget.”

Liverman said the department operates on a $50,000 annual budget. Nearly one-half ($23,124) of that amount comes from Hertford County government.

“As you can see, we have to make up for the rest through donations and fundraisers,” Liverman said. “The upkeep on our equipment, including our aging fleet of trucks; the insurance costs we must pay; the turnout gear ($2,500 per fireman); and purchases of radios and air packs and the pump tests that are performed annually on our trucks…it all adds up.”