The Greensville County Ruritan Club turns 70 this year so it seemed only natural to club members to take over the Virginia Pork Festival so that the annual community tradition would continue.
The club members also want to make the Virginia Pork Festival more of a local event, which started with only a handful of people at the first event. Over the years more out-of-towners started coming and local residents stopped as the number of patrons increased yearly until thousands of people started attending annually.
Taking over the festival was a big undertaking last year by the small club but the event was a success and the club is really looking forward to sponsoring the 43rd annual Virginia Pork Festival on June 8, from 3:30-8 p.m., at the Ruritan Club grounds at 370 Ruritan Drive.
When the original Virginia Pork Festival board didn’t want to keep putting on the event which attracts thousands of people to the Emporia-Greensville area, the Greensville Ruritan Club members knew they had to save an event that was almost as old as their club, said club president Jim Sampson.
“It was a huge undertaking,” he said. “It takes a good group of people to make an event like this happen. We don’t get any profit from it. All the profit goes to the clubs to serve the food. It was a big learning curve last year. We had very little information from past years. It made it tough but we did it and we are going to continue to do it.”
Sampson went on to say that the club couldn’t have done it without the sponsors like Toll Brothers, Georgia Pacific, Vulcan Materials and Smithfield Foods who stepped up to the plate. Last year more tickets were sold to the event than the year previous…about 5,000 tickets.
The festival has always been held at the Ruritan Club so the club felt that it was only natural for them to want to keep the event going. The clubs and local businesses rely on the money that the out-of-town and out-of-state guests bring into the community through the event. Many of the visitors also patron local gas stations, motels, etc., Sampson pointed out.
This year the music will be provided by The Embers, The Switch, Silver Eagle Band (local), and Strictly Bizzness. The Rev. Freakchild, who is a nationally known blues player will also be performing. There’s music for everyone’s taste, said Sampson, noting that there will be rock, country, Motown, blues and beach music this year.
This event will feature 40,000 pounds of pork as well as beverages. Included in your $35 ticket price will be sampling of over 30 different pork dishes, a liquor and beer bar, side items, water, and soft drinks.
Some of those dishes will include minced barbecue, pit cooked barbecue, barbecued spareribs, barbecued Boston butt, barbecued loin chops, grilled loin chops, sausage biscuits, pork burgers, sausage burgers, bologna steak burgers, Italian sausage, pork meatballs, BLTs, hot dogs, chitterlings, pig feet, souse, chitterling fritters, and Pork Festival Stew.
Side dishes include black eyed peas & stewed tomatoes, pork & beans, hushpuppies, and French fried sweet potatoes. Desserts include banana pudding and strawberry shortcake.
The Virginia Pork Festival, established in 1974, is one of the largest events on the East Coast and raises funds for over 30 different non-profit clubs and organizations in the Southside Virginia Community.
The event supports clubs such as: 4-H Emporia, Emporia Jaycees, Beta Sigma Phi, Cato Hill Hunt Club, Central Brunswick Ruritan, Coalition to Delay Parenthood, Colonial Heights Auxiliary Police, Courthouse Hunt Club, Darvills Ruritan Club, Emporia Greensville Humane Society, Elks Lodge, Hospice, Greensville Ruritan Club, American Legion, Family Violence and Seuxal Assault Unit, Nurses Sorority Chi Eta Phi, Doodlum Hunt Club, Petersburg police, Black Pot Group, Oak Grove Methodist Church, Newsoms Ruritan Club, Meherrin Ruritan Club, Joyner Gray Yale Ruritan Club, Jarratt Ruritan Club, Surry 4-H, Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad, and the Franklin Sportsmen Association.
For ticket information visit: www.VaPorkFestival.com or stop by Plan 5, Slip-In, Sadler Travel Plaza, UPS Store. Tickets are $35. VIP Parking is $25. Vendors can also apply on the website.
Featured Photo: Roger Bell/Sussex-Surry Dispatch
Craig Condrey cooks some pork for the Colonial Heights Police Auxiliary during the 42nd Virginia Pork Festival last year. Residents from all over Virginia, including Sussex and Surry, attend the festival yearly.