If you’re anything like us, you probably don’t need much past the words “pig” and “roast” to get your attention. When you add the words “New Orleans,” “Competition,” “Beer” and then garnish it with some live music and a worthy philanthropic cause, then our attention actually starts to smoke with the ferocity of a, well…traditional Southern hog roast. Such is how we’re feeling about the 5th annual New Orleans Hogs for the Cause Hog Roast that’s happening March 22nd and 23rd at City Park in New Orleans.
It’s one of the most buzzed about and fastest growing events of its kind in the South. Delish.com even called it one of the best BBQ events in the country. “We went to school at University of South Carolina and would look forward more to our pre game pig roasts before football games than the actual event,” founders Becker Hall and Rene Louapre told us as they took a break from prepping for the event. “This whole thing started out with us wanting to recreate that experience,” which is how things were meant to go when their friends were invited to the first Hogs for the Cause back in 2009—actually more like a kegger replete with roasting pigs “down by the river” in New Orleans. But just before the event, Hall and Louapre had met Ben Sarrat Jr, a 4 year old who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and immediately turned the roast into Hogs for the Cause, a fundraiser to help Ben’s family manage the day to day bills that insurance costs had made nearly impossible to keep up with.
Hogs for the Cause did so well that when they decided to go for seconds the next year, 2,500 people turned up and $30,000 was raised. Unfortunately, Bed Sarrat passed away before the second event, but the idea to help families struggling to pay for their children’s pediatric cancer lived on. “We work with local hospitals who vet families who need support past what insurance is able to do and donate the money directly. You get to know the families pretty intimately; they’re very receptive to relationships. We go to the hospital and meet with the family, sit around and chat. It’s something we stay involved in all year long,” they say about how they decide to allot the bounty. Last year over 12,000 people showed up and $300,000 was raised. This year it’s gotten so big that it has turned into a two night event, legends like the Rebirth Brass Band are playing, and they’ve had to move it to New Orleans City Park.
“The competition isn’t officially sanctioned so the teams can cook the pigs anyway they want as long as smoke is involved,” explained the founders. Also, it’s one of the few competitions where attendees can actually help themselves to the cooking. “They pay the entry fee [$15 online/$20 at the gate] and they give donations to the teams that they want to try,” say Hall and Louapre.. “There’s also the Boss Hog ticket [$250 online/$300 at the gate, both with $150 tax deductible receipt] that gives you unlimited food and open bar.”
This year the event starts on a Friday night with the first ever “Hogtail” competition—think hog roast but with alcohol. “Teams all submit cocktail recipes. We pick the six best and whichever sells the most wins.”
If you’re interested in heading to Hogs for the Cause 2013, here are some hotel specials:
Book a General Room at the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel for $159/night + taxes. Use code: hfchfca
Book a Deluxe at Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette Hotel for $189 per night + taxes. Use code: hoghoga
For more information check out their website at hogsforthecause.org http://www.hogsforthecause.org/