JANESVILLE — The 2013 Rock County Pork Fest is only two days away, and the Rock County Pork Producers are preparing to serve their signature chops to 7,500 people.
This is pork fest's 41st year, and Wednesday's edition will feature the usual serving of pork chops with their signature seasoning, as well as new activities and entertainment.
Radio stations WJVL and 105.9 The Hog will host Father's Day-themed games called “Dad Olympics” while broadcasting from the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds. Also, the band Shotgun Jane will perform country and soft rock, and the sixth annual Pork Fest Car Show will be staged.
The main attraction is, of course, the food.
People can buy one- or two-chop dinners, which include the pork chops, potato salad, applesauce, dinner roll and beverage; dessert will be offered for an additional charge. Chops are available from the drive-up window at 4 p.m., and walk-in service begins at 5 p.m.
The pork producers have a marinade process that makes their chops special. John Quinn, a board member for the pork producers and a member of the pork fest committee, said he has tried to replicate the taste at home but hasn't been successful.
“There's something about coming here and participating in the camaraderie of it all,” Quinn said. “You just have to come to pork fest for it to taste that good.”
Every year, 250 to 300 volunteers participate in pork fest. Their duties include cooking, helping with parking and overall hospitality. Many volunteers are kids involved in swine projects and their families. Local pork producers, the Janesville Police Department, the Rock County Sheriff's Office and other community businesses are also involved.
Darren and Laura Lynd and their family are hosting this year's fest. The pork producers try to select a family that is involved with pigs or pork production. The Lynd family raises show pigs.
Randy Kleven, president of the pork producers and a pork fest committee member, described the event as “a big neighborhood picnic.”
“A lot of people will get here at 3 p.m., and they won't leave until 8 that night and just visit with people the whole time,” Kleven said. “It's a big gathering place for the whole community.”
Volunteers will cook 13,000 to 14,000 pork chops and sell more than 1,000 uncooked chops in packages of four.
Pork fest is so highly regarded that travelers from other states who stumbled upon the event or went with local family members plan vacations around the event and order the seasoning from out of state. Kleven and Quinn sell seasoning to people in South Carolina, Kentucky and Arizona because, as far as they know, it is not used anywhere outside of Rock County.
The money raised from pork fest pays for three $500 scholarships to locals pursuing careers in the pork industry, community events and improving facilities and supplies at the fairgrounds.