Rob Taylor/The Daily Reflector
By NATALIE SAYEWICH
Friday, April 19, 2013
There’s nothing quite like sitting in a fold-out chair with a cold drink, the smell of the grill and the company of friends before a big game.
Though this football fan tradition is often reserved for the fall, it will make its annual springtime appearance in Greenville on Saturday, alleviating the itch for tailgating enthusiasts and Pirate fans yearning for football season.
“We’re trying to promote that atmosphere a little bit more this year and let the fans know they can come out and tailgate and have a good time,” said Mike Weller, ECU’s director of commercial marketing who organized the event along with Shannon Padrick of the Pirate Club. “There’s plenty of eastern North Carolina barbecue to take advantage of and really get that fall tailgate experience in the spring this one day of the year.
The Pigskin Pig-Out kicked off officially on Tuesday with the ECU baseball game against UNCW, followed by the ECU softball game against UNC on Wednesday but the main events begin in earnest with the Pig-Out Carnival, which opened Thursday and lasts through the weekend. The event will also include live music, alumni soccer games and a Parade of Pigs. Tailgate lots open at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and barbecue plates will be sold at a drive-through on Ficklen Drive and at a serving tent between Minges Coliseum and Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
As the main event, Pirate fans will get their first chance to see the 2013 Pirates on the gridiron during the annual spring game at 2:30 p.m. at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The game, which splits the team into Purple and Gold squads to face off against each other, marks the finale of spring practice.
Before that, fans can meet and greet their favorite Pirates and get autographs from members of the football team, CIT-championship winning men’s basketball team, cheerleaders and PeeDee the Pirate. ECU alumni and current NFL players Vonta Leach and Linval Joseph also will be present for pictures and autographs.
Today’s events begin with the Pirate Golf Classic and auction at Ironwood Country Club. The Pig-Out Carnival, located on Berkley Road, will open again at 4 p.m. and the Pig Cookin’ Contest site will open to the public at 5:30 p.m.
Forty teams will be battling to prove their barbecue’s superiority this year, with the teams divided into two divisions: gold — for the more experienced competitors — and purple. Several teams return to the pulled pork throwdown year after year, and Friday’s event is no exception.
Rich Baylis and his team Ladies & Red won the contest in 2008 and will be traveling from their home in Newport to make a run at another title this year in the gold division.
“I’ve been cooking out there for nine years I guess and I just really enjoyed the contest,” said Baylis, who works for the North Carolina Department of Transportation and competes in barbecue contests as a hobby. His wife, Angie Hunter Baylis, is a graduate of ECU and was on the winning team in the purple division the past two years. “We normally enjoy ourselves when we come. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and we love supporting the Pirates — we’re all Pirates fans, right on down to my daughters.”
This year, Baylis’ team will be composed of himself, as chief cook, Angie, their two daughters, ages 8 and 3, and Rich’s friend Mike Hamrick. He estimated that his team has placed in the top 10 in the competition six of nine years.
“The contest changes as the years go,” he said. “The other people you’re competing against step their game to another level and you have to try to move yours to a new level. The pig cooking contest 10 years ago isn’t the contest it is today. It’s getting tougher as the years go, for sure. We’re changing every couple of years to try and keep ourselves at the top of our game.
“I’m really hoping for first, but we’ll be tickled with the top 10.”
Rain is expected this weekend. In the event of cancellations, Weller said fans who purchased advance tickets will be notified by email and there will be a notice on the website, ecupirates.com.
Contact Natalie Sayewich at 252-329-9596 or firstname.lastname@example.org
via The Daily Reflector.