A beginner’s guide to the Carolina Pig Jig according to three of its biggest fans

by | May 16, 2022

The Got to Be NC Festival returns to the State Fairgrounds this weekend. An eagerly anticipated part of the festival is the Saturday-only Carolina Pig Jig. Around 20 chapters of Masons will compete for bragging rights in this one-day competition and fundraiser.

The real winners are the attendees, who for $20 gain entry and all-you-can-eat barbecue.

In an effort to help out those that might be attending their first Pig Jig, we talked to a few “experts” to get their best advice for how to maximize your barbecue experience. See tips below:

Paul Jones, manager of organization engagement at Butterball, former NCDA&CS Marketing Division employee, longtime Pig Jig attendee.

  1. After you get your plate, make a loop to see what all the lodges are offering. Some stick with barbecue pork and chicken only. Others offer homemade sides, fresh-squeezed lemonade and even desserts. See what’s out there first, then pick a place to start and go from there.
  2. Keep an open mind, especially if you have a strong preference for one style of barbecue over another. It is all delicious.
  3. The Pig Jig is not a buffet, it’s an experience. Yes, you can sample as much as you want, and there is no way you will leave the event hungry. But what makes the Pig Jig such a great event is striking up conversations with complete strangers, learning more about the different lodges and the charities they support, and coming together for a great cause.

Kevin Farrell, Cary resident and the Carolina Pig Jig’s #1 cheerleader. Seriously, he’s been every year but one (an excused absence) and brings his friends.

  1. When you go to the first table, they may have something besides barbecue, like hush puppies. Don’t fill up on filler – go straight for the ‘cue.
  2. Strategize your starting point. Don’t grab your plate and go to the middle. You can go in any order you like.
  3. Keep moving booth to booth. Whatever you do, don’t sit down. Once you sit, you’re done.

Laura Kilian, NCDA&CS legislative liaison and the TPJS, Top-Pig-Jig Strategist.

  1. Bring your own fork and giant cup of ice. You can refill your drink at the different barbecue stations. I like to bring my own fork so I can have something a little sturdier for all the barbecue you’ll be sampling.
  2. Get there when it opens! That way you can pace yourself through the event and not have to worry about a chapter running out before you make it there.
  3. Remember your favorite. Take a picture of the booth with your phone. That way you’ll know what booth to vote for with your people’s choice ticket.
  4. Wear loose fitting clothing, AKA “stretchy pants”

The Carolina Pig Jig starts at 11 a.m. and runs until the barbecue is gone. Tickets are $20 for ages 11 and up, $10 for ages 5 to 10 and free for children under 5. Tickets are available in person the day of event or online through Pay Pal.Proceeds benefit the Masonic Home for Children and the Central Children’s Home of North Carolina.