The seeds for the Lakeland Pig Festival were first planted in 1994 when a small group of local businessmen, vacationing in North Carolina, attended a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) sanctioned barbeque championship in Tryon, North Carolina. As interest grew in the community, then Governor Lawton Chiles signed a request for the formal sanctioning of the Lakeland Pig Festival as a Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) State Championship on On November 19,1996. Finally, a date was set to bring a barbeque championship to Lakeland, and on March 21, 1997 the Lakeland Pig Festival was born.
In the beginning, the goals of the Lakeland Pig Festival were pretty simple:
â–ª Raise money for local charitable organizations;
â–ª Create an relaxing event for all walks of life;
â–ª Eat some world-class barbeque!
As with any new contest, there were several years of trial and error trying to find the perfect "recipe" for success. During these early years, the contest was held in March or April; however, in 2000 a decision was made to move the contest to late-January. Each successive year has brought more contestants and greater attendance. But nothing was possible without the dedication of community volunteers.
In 2004, a Kids-Q Contest was added, and immediately became a permanent part of the event.
In 2008, Pigfest was expanded to include Friday evening activities. With the addition of live music and entertainment, fun food competition, and BBQ vending, the event continued to be a great success. To date, the Lakeland Pig Festival has contributed nearly $500,000 to local charities and is recognized nationally as one of the best Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) BBQ events in the country.
The mission of the Lakeland Pig Festival, Inc. is to continue to promote and improve the event as it has since it's beginning, so that it is enjoyed by the participants and our community and serves the charitable organizations of the greater Lakeland area and we are proud to report that this mission continues to be met!