hog day

A band performs on state during a past Hog Day festival.

Hog Day, a festival with a 37-year history in Hillsborough, has been canceled because of concerns over increasing Covid-19 cases. It is the second consecutive year the event has been done in by the pandemic. The festival was scheduled for Sept. 17 and 18.

“With a heavy heart, our Hog Day Committee regrets to inform everyone that the Orange County Optimist Club has decided to cancel Hog Day 2021,” read a post on the Hog Day Facebook page. “After discussions with government officials who shared their concerns about Covid-19 we believe it’s in the best interest to cancel the event this year.”

Craig Lloyd, who is president of the Optimist Club, which puts on the festival, said the town and the county had approached the Hog Day Committee about safety concerns for crowds attending the two-day, outdoor festival. With the possibility of stronger restrictions being put in place, Lloyd said the committee couldn’t take the risk.

“We had to order, you know, more than 1,000 pounds of barbecue, and if we did not withdraw the order by Friday, we would be stuck with 25 pigs,” Lloyd said. “We’d have to pay for it, and there's no way we could accommodate that.”

Hog Day is Orange County’s longest-running festival, first started in 1983. The event raises funds for youth programs and services throughout the county. It features a barbecue contest, arts and craft vendors, car show, children’s area, live performances, and much more in historic downtown Hillsborough. The event had attracted as many as 50,000 people, although organizers were expecting closer to a third of that number this year.

Lloyd said the committee had spent hundreds of hours planning and preparing, and were expecting about 60 vendors, including 35 crafters, 10 food vendors, and 18 pit-cookers. He said the decision to cancel now would hopefully help those vendors avoid making unnecessary purchases.

“A lot of different vendors that order their products and supplies — especially the food vendors — prior (to the event) and so we took that into regard,” Lloyd said. “A lot of these vendors have had other events canceled throughout the year. We felt kind of an obligation to them to be able to do our due diligence as much as we could, but with the lingering not knowing what's gonna happen next week, or if the town and the county were gonna mandate stricter things, we just weighed the options and felt it was the call that we had to make.”