Music, rides, crafts and barbecue highlight event

If you’re going to have a barbecue, you want nice weather. If you’re going to host the largest nonprofit, whole hog pig cooking contest in the state with thousands of attendees, well, you need nice weather.

Skies should be clear, though temperatures may be a bit cool, for the annual Newport Pig Cookin’ Contest scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Newport Town Park.

“We can have it a little cool,” said Jim Bristle, president of the cooking contest. “We just need to keep the rain out. We’ve had rain the past several years. We would love to get a good crowd. I hope we bust it loose.”

Friday night low temperatures will be in the lower 40s with highs Saturday in the lower 60s, but there will be plenty of activities, entertainment, crafts, and of course barbecue, to enjoy at Newport Town Park.

The opening ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Friday, with rides and craft vendors opening. Other food vendors will also be open. The Band of Oz is scheduled to perform from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

The rides open again at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and barbecue plates for $7 will be available beginning at 11 a.m. The band Unknown Tongues is scheduled to perform from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by The Castaways from noon to 5 p.m.

Now in its 39th year, the Newport Pig Cookin’ Contest is a must for whole hog cooks from all over, Bristle said.

“It’s one of the hardest contests to win,” he said. “All the top-notch cooks are here. We get them from all over, and all the local cooks are here, too.”

In the end though, the contest is about charity, Bristle said.

“Everything we raise goes back to the community,” said Bristle, who cited beneficiaries such as Meals on Wheels, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. “All of our people are volunteers. No one gets paid. The people work hard. Some have been doing it for all 39 years.”

The event has raised $937,000 in its previous 38 years, and Bristle believes the million-dollar mark is right around the corner.

“It will be this year or next,” he said.

And, he knows why the event has been so successful for all these years.

“We have a family atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a place to bring the kids and the family.”

Bristle said he’s looking forward to another successful event.

“We’d love for everyone to come out, have a good time, eat some barbecue and help us raise some money,” he said.

For more information on the event, go online to www.newportpigcooking.com.