Five things to know about Pork Fest 2014

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

JANESVILLE—The Rock County Pork Fest will be held at the 4-H Fairgrounds Wednesday, June 11. Here are five things to know about the event.

1. There's more than pork. Pork Fest volunteers will serve more than 25,000 pork chops and 7,000 meals to attendees. The meat is coated in a custom seasoning from Illinois and marinated for 24 hours before being grilled and served.

Besides being able to chow down on tasty pork, attendees can look forward to entertainment including pig-related games for kids, country rock band Southbound and the annual car show. The car show started seven years ago with only about 10 vehicles, but it's grown to display up to 60 classic cars.

2. It's a charitable event. Pork Fest is a non-profit event that benefits local children. Three $500 scholarships are funded by the festival and awarded to students interested in careers related to agriculture.

Extra money raised at the event is put toward the Children's Christmas Benefit and new pens, gates, fans and a scale for the fairgrounds. Hundreds of local pork producers, families and children will volunteers at the event, as will the Janesville Police Department.

3. There's deep tradition. Pork Fest began in the late 1960s, when Rock County's pork producers gathered and served pork meals to local farmers who raised swine. It has transformed into the charitable event it is today.

This year's hosts are Randy and Linda Kleven, who began raising swine in the 1980s. The family raises Hereford and Tamworth pigs.

4. It lures distant pork lovers. Pork Fest doesn't attract just Rock County residents. Attendees have hailed from Ohio, southern Indiana and Alabama.

“Two years ago, we had a couple from Nevada,” Randy Kleven said. “They were looking for a home-cut meal, and that's what they got.”

They liked the pork chop seasoning so well they asked Kleven to ship them a bottle.

5. It's a friendly atmosphere. Perhaps the most attractive part about Pork Fest is the comfortable atmosphere. Those who go don't have to pay to participate in the festivities or to enjoy the car show and band.

There's plenty of history rooted in the festival's older volunteers.

“What really sticks out is you get to hear the stories from old timers,” Kleven said. “It's a big picnic. Everybody comes, and they get to sit down and they get to listen to these stories.”

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