EATON — The 49th annual Preble County Pork Festival was held this past weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-22. The festival brings people from all over to shop local vendors and consume pork products of all sorts.
The festival kicked off on Saturday with the annual parade. First Baptist Church won Best Pork Industry-Related Theme Entry, Silfex won Best Commercial Entry, Anytime Fitness won Most Colorful Entry, Preble County District Library won Best Preble County Organization Entry, and Ro-Da-O Farms won Judge’s Choice.
Many bands participated in the parade as well. Eaton High School Band won First Place in Class A, Dixie High School Band won First Place in Class B, and Tri-County North High School Band won First Place in Class C. In Class B: Shenandoah High School Band placed second and Preble Shawnee High School band placed third. In Class C: National Trail High School Band placed second, Mississinawa Valley High School Band Placed third, and Twin Valley South High School Band also participated though they did not place.
This year there were more meal options than ever. The Chop Stop location was renamed “Swine N Dine” and offered a plated meal with choices of meats and sides. They offered one little piggy meal (with one meat), two little piggies meal (with two meats), and three little piggies meal (with three meats). The diner could choose any combination of pork chop, ham, or sausage. The venue was in the same location, just with a different name.
There were also pork nachos, a sausage and pancake breakfast, a Short Order area, food in Bruner Arena, hot dog stands, food in the Kids Zone, and food in the souvenir area.
Uncooked meat to prepare at home could also be purchased at the festival’s Country Store.
This year the festival saw the return of a petting zoo and pony rides, offered by Sterling Silver Mini Farms in Miamisburg. Chases Racing & Swimming Pigs also performed throughout the weekend.
Over the weekend, the entertainment tent featured: Zach Neil, Higher Vision, Richard Lynch Band, and church service.
Other activities included: sausage making demos, Spoon Man, cooking demos, pork carcass retail cuts demos, and the Kiddie Tractor Pull.
For Pork Queen Alysa Sorrell, her stint as the Preble County Pork Queen comes after a pig-showing hiatus due to personal reasons. She is happy to represent her family and Preble County as the Pork Queen.
“It was a really big honor, because the pork industry is so big in Preble County. It was pretty cool to be able to be the Pork Queen for my whole family, get our name out there, and represent Preble County to all these surrounding counties,” she said. “We had a family show pig business for thirty-something years. I’ve been showing since I was two and a half. We sold the pig business a couple years back for family reasons, but I came back this year to show at the fair.”
As Pork Queen, Sorrell was responsible for greeting visitors throughout the weekend and being present to represent Preble County. Her favorite part of the Pork Festival are the pig races and visiting different vendor booths.
“It is a really big craft show. There are a lot of different things for people to do, for children and adults. You can’t really get bored,” she said.
In addition to the Swine N Dine, there was another addition to the Preble County Pork Festival this year. The Preble County Farm Bureau worked with the Pork Festival to host a Barn Breakout Escape Room during the festival. Participants were challenged to race against the clock with their team to solve the farm themed course. Along the way, they learned more about Ohio agriculture and the swine industry.
According to Amanda Badger, a trustee for the Preble County Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau wanted to do something different for the Pork Festival. Farm Bureau knew that escape rooms are popular currently and thought it would be a good way to install a sense of teamwork into participants, something Badger says is important in agriculture.
“We created a fun, agriculturally theme, escape room. The participants will go around, learn about different aspects of pork and other parts of agriculture. When they complete the challenge they get a clue and when they complete the course they get to be entered into a drawing for some fun prizes that are also related to agriculture,” she said.
“This is an activity that families can do together and it is something where they can learn about agriculture, history of agriculture, and things they didn’t know. Each challenge is going to ask them questions like, ‘Did you know that pigs help us create certain products?’ Other than bacon and pork chops, pigs are valuable for many other uses. For instance, the first station is the pig skin throw. It’s a football – but do people know it is actually made from pig skin? All of those are made here in Ohio. That is a great story about our agriculture industry and a product we provide to the every day public that people might not be aware of.
“We hope that participants learn about the Farm Bureau and our involvement in educating the community about agriculture and our advocacy for farmers at the local, state, and federal levels. We also hope they have fun. We want them to have a fun time working together to solve these challenges.”
Badger added, they are already making plans to have this escape room at the Preble County Pork Festival next year.
“We want to thank all of the volunteers at the Pork Festival. If you look around, this is an amazing event that is put on by a lot of hard work. This has been going on all week long. [The Farm Bureau] is excited we can be a part of that and grow Preble County and tourism by promoting this event outside of the county and attracting visitors from outside the county that also come to the Pork Festival to experience this,” she said.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or followe on Twitter @KKimbler_RH