Meat and Greet at the Peak City Pig Fest

The rib-eating contest between Apex's fire department and the town's police officers is a highlight of the annual Peak City Pig Fest, held June 14-15.

This weekend’s Peak City Pig Fest is a time to see friends, have some fun and enjoy some seriously good North Carolina barbecue in downtown Apex.

Now in its eighth year, the Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned event features 48 cook teams competing for more than $12,000 in prize money. Teams will be competing in four categories: chicken, ribs, beef brisket and pork. The optional Anything Butt competition on Friday judges any non-meat side dishes

Organizer Graham Wilson says the festival attracts lots of North Carolina teams, from the Triangle and beyond. Roughly half of the teams are return competitors.

“We’re their hometown competition. A lot of them like to have their friends come over to spend time with them while they’re cooking,” he said. “It’s a chance for some of their friends to experience the competition without having to travel too far.”

In addition to the cook teams, Wilson expects more than 18,000 people to attend the weekend’s activities, which also includes pig races on Saturday, live music, inflatables and a few other fun competitions. A crowd favorite is Friday’s rib-eating contest pitting Apex police against the fire department.

“They take it very seriously,” he said, adding that the police department has won twice and the firefighters once. “The fire department is the current reigning champion, and there’s a trophy that goes back and forth each year between the winners, so they can rub it in all year.”

Other competitions this weekend include People’s Choice barbecue and local beer contests. As patrons try a variety of local brews, they can also enjoy a limited release Pig Fest Beer developed especially for the festival by Eric Wagner at Brueprint Brewing Company.

“He tried to come up with something that would reflect barbecue,” said Wilson.

The two-day event is a fundraiser presented by the Apex Sunrise Rotary Foundation, and proceeds benefit local charities. This year’s main beneficiary will be Meg’s Smile Foundation, a Holly Springs-based nonprofit that provides gifts or fun activities to children with serious illnesses. Western Wake Crisis Ministry and Operation BBQ Relief will also get a share of the proceeds.

The specific amount raised by the festival varies depending on the weather, but Wilson says it typically raises more than $40,000 each year.

He encourages festival visitors to take advantage of the free shuttles from Calvary Chapel, 1600 Center St., all day Saturday. with the last shuttle at 5:30 p.m.

“Parking in downtown Apex can get really tight, even without an event going on. And we take a lot of the parking with our cook teams,” Wilson said.  “For the second year, we’re offering free shuttles. That makes things a lot easier for them and for us.”

Find all the Pig Fest details, including parking instructions, the entertainment schedule and advance tickets for plates of competition barbecue, at peakcitypigfest.com.

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