Pickles, pigs and swigs coming in November

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Pickles, pork barbecue, local craft beer, live bluegrass music, antique tractors and the Pickle Train.

If all of this sounds like a fun way to spend a Saturday, mark your calendars for November 20 in downtown Mount Olive. 

Organizers are planning the first-ever Pickles, Pigs & Swigs to benefit the Mount Olive Downtown Development Corporation. Featured, of course, are Mt. Olive Pickles, craft beer from Mount Olive-based R&R Brewing and a North Carolina Pork Council-sanctioned Whole Hog Cooking Competition.

The cooking competition gets underway Friday evening in the Mount Olive Town Hall parking lot. 

Saturday’s festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will be staged in the Southern Bank parking area at the corner of Center and Main streets, with attractions set up along Center Street. A plate sale, featuring barbecue from the competition, will be held throughout the day on Saturday. Plates will be $10.

While many details are still in the works, Pickles, Pigs & Swigs currently seeks cook teams for the BBQ competition. 

The field for this first year will be limited to 20 teams, and teams will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Event organizers are also seeking individual team and general festival sponsors. 

Those interested in teams or sponsorships can apply and pay online at https://www.eventeny.com/events/picklespigsswigs-1554/, or receive applications from committee members and at Mount Olive Town Hall.

“We have always talked about a fall festival for Mount Olive,” said Julie Beck, president of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce. “Members of the Mount Olive Community Development Corporation came forward to brainstorm for an event that would celebrate downtown, and the pieces just started falling into place. We think this will be a BIG DILL for Mount Olive, and we are HOPping right along in our plans.”

Most of the proceeds from the festival will benefit the Community Development Corporation, which hopes to spearhead a master plan for downtown’s future.

In addition to Beck, who is chairing the committee, members include Mount Olive Mayor Kenny Talton, Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Wiggins, Commissioner Dr. Barbara Kornegay, retired Southern Bank Chairman Grey Morgan and Town Manager Jammie Royall - all of whom also serve on the Mount Olive Community Development Corporation.

Other local members are Ryan Roberts of R&R Brewing, Lynn Williams of Mt. Olive Pickle, Chamber directors Kelley Thwaite and Carrie Shields (Carrie is also Duplin County’s Economic Development director), Freddie Ellis of Johnny Mac Well Smokehouse, Town Clerk Sherry Davis, Town Human Resources Director Erin Lambert, and Police Chief Jason Hughes. Rounding out the committee are Dr. Tammy Kelly, director of Lenoir County Cooperative Extension, and Duplin County Travel & Tourism Director Amanda Justice. Both Dr. Kelly and Ms. Justice have experience with competitive BBQ competitions and accompanying events in their respective counties.

“This will be a much smaller event and footprint than the North Carolina Pickle Festival,” Beck said, “and we think it will have a much more laid-back feel to it. It will be a great way to spend a fall afternoon.”

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