Monday, August 30, 2010

The Kouts Porkfest

Last Saturday my search for the unusual took me to the town of Kouts IN.

Kouts is a small four-corner town about eight miles south of Valpo on SR49. Each year they hold an event called Porkfest. I guess I never expected much from such a tiny town like Kouts so we never attended the event before.

This year I just had to see what Porkfest was all about. What I found was what I expected.

It was set in a rather small 2-3 block area adjacent to the four corners with 10x10 tents selling everything from bad apparel to homemade duck calls. There were the expected large enclosed inflatable bounce bags for the kiddies.

They had a parade with fire trucks, police cars, a band or two and the obligatory long conga line of local politicians. We missed most of that as planned.

The food was typical fest food. No Indiana fest would be complete without a Dr. Vegetable trailer.

I swear these guys show up at all local fests and county fairs serving greasy fried vegetables. Me? I’d rather have greasy fried meat any day. Why not Dr. Pork instead?

Here was a quaint pork vendor prior to setting up.

Not having much time to spend, we left before he got going. But I am sure judging by the trailer alone they had some good stuff not to mention the cool vending trailer.

Most food vendors were selling their usual fest stuff but here’s a very enterprising couple. This is a traveling wood-fired pizza oven.

While we did not sample any pizza it looked good and I admire their creativity. They will be back selling pizza this next weekend at a local produce stand and we’ll try the product then.

Hey, look. Pierogi!

And it’s about 40 miles from Whiting.

There were local old folks enjoying themselves. Kouts is one very small town.

This alone was worth the trip. Check it out. A mini-chopper with a Honda 90 engine. Sweet!

The volunteer fire department was grilling pork chops. Yawn. Some vendors were selling pulled pork sandwiches. OK. Others offered pork burgers and pork brats but no food offered as pork excited me one bit.

There were no ribs. No hotlinks. No bacon. No whole roasted hogs. This was not a Porkfest to me, it was just an excuse and a theme for a town party.

But it was a cheerful little town party so don’t get me wrong. Everyone there appeared to be enjoying themselves and that’s all that counts.

IF I were running a Porkfest event here’s what I would do.

1. Enlist some rib vendors. What’s a porkfest without ribs? Kouts is not a hotspot for diversity but in this case it could use some. There are fest vendors from Gary that serve ribs and I am sure they would like to make a few extra bucks in Hooterville.

2. Hot links. Ever had a hot link? It’s probably the best spicy pork sausage ever and not too expensive. You’re more likely to find them in urban areas.

3. Roast some whole hogs fer’crissakes. A pig roast is not only great food but it makes a spectacle seeing the whole pig rotating on a huge skewer over a bed of hardwood coals and the aroma is intoxicating. I’ve roasted whole hogs before and all the cuts taste the same from bacon to the ribs to the ham to the jowls. What you get with a whole roast hog is large quantities of pulled pork. I roasted whole hogs twice once each for my two kid’s graduations right in front of my garage. We served about 80 people each time. After roasting, the pulled, shredded meat was separated into three warming dishes, one was plain pork, the second was pork mixed with mild BBQ sauce and the third contained pulled pork with hot & spicy BBQ sauce. The skin itself was nothing less than awesome!

4. I could go on and on but what about fried pork schnitzel, pork tenderloin sandwiches and even fried bacon kakobs? How about Carolina style pulled pork?

A true Porkfest would celebrate the swine first, not fest food and trashy junk vendors but that’s just me. Sure, that can’t be avoided but it would take a back seat in my Porkfest.

What this Porkfest lacked was a little creativity and variety. It lacked celebrating the varieties and nuances of pork.

Maybe I will offer my assistance to them next year. I would even waive my Pork Potentate consultant fee.


Hotel Chicago said...

Glad I have never made the trip down.. Seems like another county fair, only smaller!

Dan from Madison said...

Wow that sounds like one sad porkfest. Maybe they could rename the festival. MAN number one on the list would be whole hogs spinning as you said for the spectacle if nothing else.

I know the town is probably hard up too, but they should put up a little money and a nice trophy for a rib contest or something. The rib contests are stupid in my opinion as everyone likes their rib a little different from everyone else, but again, the spectacle of people cooking from dawn to dusk is pretty cool.