Friday, October 20, 2000
Banner weekend for Pig 'n Pepper
Columbus Day weekend brought the Pig 'n Pepper back to the area for a weekend of food, music and all-around fun. This marked the tenth edition of the Pig 'n Pepper, which has grown from a one-day event held at Great Brook State Park to the current two-day festival, held for the first time this year at the 4H Fairgrounds in Westford.
Over the course of the weekend an estimated 20,000 people attended the event. Clearly, two days of beautiful fall weather had a positive impact on event attendance, which was down the last two years as a result of rain. For most people attending the Pig 'n Pepper this year, the change to the new venue was well received; positive comments were heard throughout the weekend. And as a result of the strong attendance, an estimated $90,000 was raised for the schools; Carlisle's share will be one half of the total.
The event was moved to the 4H grounds from it's previous home at Kimball Farm in Westford. Two reasons precipitated the move: a lack of space and facilities at the Kimball Farm field and owner Mike Kimball's concern about the field becoming compacted. In many ways, the new location was superior to the open field (dedicated buildings, power on site, more convenient parking, etc.) so the decision was made to move to the new venue.
The main purpose of the Pig 'n Pepper is to raise money for local schools. An important secondary purpose of the event is to bring Carlisle residents closer together and foster an increased sense of community pride and fulfillment. Beginning in 1996, when the event had clearly outgrown the venues and energies of Carlisle alone, we began sharing the responsibility for staging the Pig 'n Pepper with Westford. As a result, all net profits generated by the Pig 'n Pepper are now split between the two towns.
Brilliant blue skies greeted the hundreds of volunteers who began their shifts Saturday morning. A steady flow of people began passing through the gates as soon as they opened at 11 a.m. and by noon the event was in full swing. The air filled with the smells and smoke of serious barbecuing. The artisans' barn was quickly filled with people exploring all manner of arts and crafts, various jewelry items, clothing, and more. While the horse-drawn hayrides circled the perimeter of the location and excellent blues music filled the air, fair-goers were busy visiting the pepper pavilion with its fiery and colorful entries and the sauce barn, where a number of sauces, relishes, and salsas were available for perusal or purchase.
The absence of some longtime vendors this year created a backlog of hungry patrons; by 1 p.m. each day, the line for barbecue was estimated to be about an hour long. Most of the hungry barbecue aficionados waited patiently in line and were quite understanding about the situation, saying the food was well worth the wait. Clearly this will be a priority item to fix for next year!
KidSpot offered games and activities for children of all ages. Face painting, basketball shooting, crafts tables, ring toss and more entertained thousands of kids over the course of the weekend. A particularly popular activity was to have a Polaroid photograph taken in one of several different cut-out scenes. Over 2,000 Polaroid pictures were handed out over the two days. This year marked the first time that all kids activities were free, much to the delight of youngsters and their parents, too. Also popular with the youngsters were the juggling and acrobatic routines
The state grilling championship was celebrated on Saturday, with categories including sausage, lamb, shellfish, and chef's choice. Carlisle's own Peg Schafer and her team of Horrible Heffalumps scored an impressive win in the chef's choice category, with an extremely rare perfect score of 180 points. Sunday's featured event was the state barbecue championship, which was won by the Yahoos team for the third time in four years.
Late Sunday, as the music of J. Geils and Bluestime filled the air, the tenth annual Pig 'n Pepper wound down, leaving behind scores of tired but happy volunteers, thousands of well-fed fairgoers and a tremendous sense of accomplishment at having been able to put together another successful event.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito