For Adinda Webster and the Pork Festival committee, canceling the beloved Tipton County Pork Festival in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a tough decision. They are elated to have the fest returning to downtown Tipton in September.
“We are anticipating that this is going to be a very large year for us,” says Webster, president of the Tipton County Pork Festival. “We have the backing and support of the health department, the county and the city governments, to have the festival this year.”
The Tipton County Pork Festival will make its triumphant return to downtown Tipton in 2021, running from September 9 to 11. In addition to all of the food regulars have come to expect over the years, the festival will feature parades, pageants, carnival rides, live entertainment with free admission and much more. A park-and-ride shuttle is also available for very little cost. Festival goers can take home memories of this year’s festival by visiting their headquarters tent at the corner of Madison and Main Street to purchase a variety of souvenirs that are offered including t-shirts, sweatshirts, and more.
Now in its 53rd year, the Tipton County Pork Festival started back in 1969 when a group of Tipton County women decided they wanted to showcase the local pork available in the area.
“The ladies credited with organizing the first festival were Henrietta Larson, Nan Nash, Margaret Hinkle and Bobbie Kauffman,” Webster says. “They basically cooked some pork chops on the courthouse lawn and put on a festival to promote the product, and that’s pretty much how the festival was born. Over the years it’s evolved into what it is today.”
While the festival has certainly grown over the years, the organizers have remained committed to spotlighting local businesses and not-for-profits in the area.
“The festival is all about giving back to the community,” Webster says. “It’s important that our not-for-profits are able to participate to show the community what they do. In giving back to the community, we try to buy our pork from within Tipton County, so we buy all of our food product from White’s Meat Market that helps the local economy.”
The committee is excited for another way they will be able to help give back to the community this year by offering a new attraction to festival goers. Helicopter rides will be available during the festival for $40 per person. The festival is hopeful to give part of the proceeds from this attraction back to the Tipton Baseball Board.
Known for its always-popular pork chop tent, the Tipton County Pork Festival also features a Pork Court that gives attendees a way to check out other pork vendors from the surrounding areas.
Heading into this year’s event, Webster and her fellow committee members also wanted to offer families a special night to bring their kids to the festival.
“Thursday we’re doing a Family Fun Night where we ask our vendors if they’d be willing to participate in a $3 item or items, depending on what they want to do,” Webster says. “We offer that so families can come enjoy a night at the festival while not breaking their budget. That’s also our bracelet night at the carnival rides. As well as, Royal Events is coming back this year, and they’re going to be offering their character meet-and-greets for free again.”
In reflecting on what keeps the festival running smoothly, Webster emphasizes the importance of her volunteers each year.
“Our volunteers are our everything really. If it weren’t for the volunteers, we have that come in shifts every day, we wouldn’t be able to run the festival as smoothly as we do.”
She along with the committee also stresses how much community sponsors mean to the festival.
“Honestly, if it wasn’t for our sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to have a festival,” Webster says. “They are a very vital part of our organization and enable our festival to continue on each year.”
While the Tipton County Pork Festival provides the community with a fun time, Webster says she and her fellow committee members realized the economic impact cancelling the festival last year had on the community.
“When we sat down last year during COVID trying to figure out how we could safely have the festival, we crunched the numbers, and realized that in a three-day time frame, our festival puts about $80,000-plus back into the community alone,” Webster says. “Our community really relies on the fest more than people realize. We have so many businesses and not-for-profits that truly benefit from the Pork Festival.”
While the committee is excited for families to come and have a fun time at the fest this year, they are also very aware that the effect the Tipton County Pork Festival will have on the local community and its businesses as it returns in 2021.
To learn more about this year’s Tipton County Pork Festival, be sure to visit TiptonCountyPorkFestival.com.