SOOO-o-oeeyyy!! The Henderson| Chester County Chamber of Commerce will once again host a crowd favorite competition at the upcoming 45th annual BBQ Festival. However this year, the popular Hog Callin’ Contest is stepping up to host the inaugural Tennessee State Hog Callin’ Championship. The inaugural Tennessee State Hog Callin’ Championship will be held Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2:45 p.m. on the main stage of the Chester County BBQ Festival.
Contestants are invited from across the state to show their skills and will be judged on originality, presentation and creativity. Thanks to corporate sponsors, TN Pork Producers and Tosh Farms, this year’s competitors are facing off for impressive prizes: a trophy plus $1,000 for the first place winner and $500 for the second place winner. In addition, the winner will be named the 2023 Tennessee Hog Callin’ Champion.
Blake Hopper, executive director of the Henderson/Chester County Chamber of Commerce, said organizers are excited to make Chester County the home of the Tennessee Hog Callin’ Championship. “Hog Callin’ is a long-time tradition, and we are glad to see it grow and become a signature event for our Chester County BBQ Festival,” Hopper said.
An event steeped in history, this contest has been a part of town tradition since 1978. Once simply a practical skill for calling in hogs that may be acres away, the practice of “hog callin’” has developed into an entertaining reminder of the town’s agricultural roots. While the original competitors were primarily farmers eager to show off their skills, today citizens from all walks of life also take up the challenge of creating a head-turning (and sometimes ear-splitting) call. Each contestant is tasked with cultivating his or her own unique style of call, with distinct sounds and inflections that are sure to grab the attention of all visitors – and hogs – around!
Two-time contest winner Milton Sewell, of Henderson, came by his hog calling skills naturally. “I was reared on a hog farm down in Alabama. The hogs used to go down to the pond . . . and we’d have to call them to come eat,” Sewell said. During his first experience in the local contest in 1990, he simply used the call he had perfected as a kid on the farm. That year, his practical technique won him first place and a desire to compete several more times over the next few years. What some might consider an unusual talent is, for Sewell, a fun and liberating experience: “Every now and then you need to let your hair down and be real.”
Over the years, the Hog Callin’ competition has become a highlight during a weekend filled with Southern charm and small-town traditions. “We’re excited to see the reputation of this event grow and we hope that its momentum will continue for years to come,” Hopper said.
For more information, visit ChesterCountyBBQ-Festival.com.