Preble County Pork Festival returns

EATON, Ohio – Every September, the Preble County Fairgrounds is flooded with tens of thousands of people hoping to get their fill of the region’s most famous dishes as the smell of bacon, pork chops and sausages fills the air.

For its 51st year, the Preble County Pork Festival will return, although this year it required new management, last minute plans and an influx of community support and volunteers.

What do you want to know

  • The Preble County Pork Festival was founded in 1970
  • The festival attracts more than 100,000 people to the exhibition center every year
  • The event’s board announced its suspension this spring before new managers relaunch the festival
  • Preble County Estimates Event Generates Millions in Economic Impact
  • The festival will take place on September 17 and 18

On April 19, hundreds of pork lovers were surprised and disappointed when the Preble County Pork Festival Board announced on Facebook that it had made the “incredibly difficult decision to suspend the festival for 2022. “.

The message cited the rising cost of products, the difficulty of maintaining aging equipment and a lack of interest from volunteers.

County Commissioner Adam Craft said the announcement left him and his fellow commissioners in shock.

“I’ve been coming here really since I was born,” he said. “It was almost like you got, you know, kicked in the stomach.”

Almost immediately, he said the board of commissioners heard one community member after another calling on them to do what they needed to keep the tradition and its millions of dollars in economic impact going.

“This festival had kind of supported Preble County,” he said. “People come from all over the country to visit Preble County, little old Preble County, that weekend.”

As the commission looked for ways to breathe new life into the festival, Megan Jamison-Griffis and her husband Robert Griffis volunteered their services.

After working in event planning across the country, Megan, who was born and raised in Preble County, brought Robert back to her hometown four years ago, where they opened their own business, RMJG Events.

Historical photo of the festival in the late 70s (Courtesy of Preble County Pork Festival Board)

Something like the Preble County Pork Festival was exactly the kind of thing they had spent their careers managing.

“Having done it, we know it can be done,” Robert said. “It’s two things, it’s the people and it’s the money.”

In June, the couple hit the ground running, announcing the event was back and working to gather sponsors, volunteers and anything else they might need.

To start, they invested $100,000 of RMJG Events’ money, which the county matched.

“In my opinion, that’s what community service is,” Craft said. “To take the resources that have been allocated to us and use them to have the best impact on the community we serve.”

Once the event resumed, the Griffis said they didn’t need to twist too many arms to get the community to accept.

“We have over 250 vendors who come every year and all of them have said, we’ll absolutely be back,” Megan said.

Robert said what will ensure the success of the festival, however, is the manpower they have provided over the past few months.

“The biggest part of it all is how the community kind of came together and said, ‘Hey, we want to volunteer,’ and without the number of volunteers stepping up, that wouldn’t even have happened,” he said.

The Pork Festival dates back to 1970 when it began as a way to honor the county’s pork producers and educate the local community about their economic impact. It has since grown into a celebration that includes a parade, live music, pig races and events to raise awareness for Ohio’s pork industry.

The Preble County Pork Festival takes place all day September 17-18, with a kick-off concert and hot air balloon launch on Friday, September 16.

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