On May 4th–7th, Jiggy with the Piggy comes to Downtown Kannapolis with over 50 BBQ competition teams as well as a festival featuring a People’s Choice Pork Tasting Contest, a 5K race, concerts, a kids zone, rides, and over 100 arts and crafts vendors.
How Jiggy Got Started
Jiggy with the Piggy has been growing in popularity for a decade, but the festival tradition in Downtown Kannapolis dates back even further than that. Deputy City Manager Eddie Smith played an integral role in bringing the idea for Jiggy to the City of Kannapolis in part because of his own participation in BBQ competitions.
- “For decades, our community and Cannon Mills celebrated its textile heritage with an annual festival called CottonStock,” shared Smith. “Over several years, the festival came to be known by many names: Villagefest, Springfest, and Village Jam. Those prosperous years were under the skillful direction of the Cabarrus Events Association (CEA) led by Brenda Drye and Jon Howard. They both laid the groundwork for what we continue to celebrate each spring.”
In 2012, the City of Kannapolis began its first downtown partnership with CEA to explore ideas for attracting people downtown and the BBQ festival became a reality. In the first year of Jiggy (2013), teams sited up and down Oak Avenue, in the Swanee parking lot, and the old K-Town Furniture parking lot which is now home plate at Atrium Health Ballpark. All the arts and crafts vendors were located on West Avenue.
Stoke and Smoke out of Raleigh, NC were the very first Grand Champions of the BBQ Competition.
“We could say the success of that partnership was the catalyst for our endeavors with LMG and Temerity Baseball,” added Smith.
- Through the festival partnership with CEA, the City helped to enhance the musical entertainment, increase the number of arts & craft vendors to over 100+, added a Kids Zone with carnival-style rides, and introduced a BBQ Competition sanctioned by the largest sanctioning organization in the United States, the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
A spin-off activity that has been wildly popular at the festival is the People’s Choice Pork Competition which benefits the Kannapolis YMCA, Kannapolis Rotary Club, and the Kannapolis Youth Council. The tasting is from noon-2:00 pm on Saturday at the North Carolina Research Campus Horseshoe. Limited tickets are available for $10 (while supplies last) starting at 11:45 am on Saturday.
Eddie’s Passion for BBQ
Smith used to travel the BBQ circuit in his spare time with his best friend Justin. Their team, Fast Eddie’s Fine Swine, was the People’s Choice Champion in 2018 before they started to scale back their events.
When Smith first became interested in BBQ in 2010, he attended Myron Mixon’s Competitive BBQ School in Unadilla, GA. Mixon is a BBQ Legend and 5x World Barbecue Champion but is most famous for many seasons on Food Network’s BBQ Pitmasters.
Photo: Kannapolis Deputy City Manager Eddie Smith with BBQ Legend Myron Mixon
Photo: 2012 Charlotte BBQ & Blues
How did Jiggy get its name? The planners were searching for a catchy name for the 5K race, when 10-year-old Ashley Mills (daughter of Parks & Recreation Director, Gary Mills), suggested Jiggy with the Piggy. Soon after, the city rebranded all the parts of the festival to the popular name.
Cannon Ballers Get Extra Jiggy!
Even the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers are getting extra Jiggy this year! In March, they announced that during the festival weekend, the team will officially become the Kannapolis Q’s for their weekend series beginning on Friday, May 5th.
The team has “cooked” up specialty uniforms that will be worn by players and coaches. A limited quantity of Kannapolis Q’s merchandise is now available for purchase via the Cannon Ballers website and in-person at the Cannon City Supply Company team store located within Atrium Health Ballpark.
The 2023 Jiggy with the Piggy festival is bigger than ever with 50 barbecue teams coming into town to compete and a full lineup of activities and of course, BBQ! Downtown Kannapolis retailers, aka the West Ave District, will also be open for visitors to enjoy. The Historic Gem Theatre will be showing Guardians of the Galaxy as well (Tickets: $5 adults, $4 kids). Make a weekend “Gettin’ Jiggy” in Kannapolis!
📍 The festival is located at 125 N. Research Campus Drive and Downtown Kannapolis.
🅿️ Parking information
Thursday, May 4th at 6:30 pm
🏃🏽 Jiggy with the Piggy 5K. You can win prizes if you dress in a piggy-related costume. See route map.
⚾ 7:00 pm – Kannapolis Cannon Ballers Baseball Game (Star Wars Night and Post-Game Fireworks) – Tickets
Friday, May 5th (5:00–9:00 pm)
🎉 5:00 pm – Jiggy Festival Opens
- Food, Arts & Crafts, Kids Zone, Music, Carnival Rides, and More (rides are $2 each/$10 wristband)
⚾ 5:30 pm – Kannapolis Q’s Baseball Game (Cinco de Mayo) – Tickets
🎶 7:00 pm – Travis Denning Concert (Ryan Perry, Opening Act)
Saturday, May 6th (9:00 am–5:00 pm)
🥞 7:00–10:30 am – Y Service Club Pancake Breakfast
🔥 Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) BBQ Competition – Throughout the day the professional barbeque teams compete for top awards and money prizes.
9:00 am – Jiggy Festival Opens
- Saturday Kids Zone will feature a new Ninja Course
- Local chainsaw artist, James Miller, will be on-site with carving demonstrations.
😋 Noon–2:00 pm – People’s Choice Pork Tasting for $10 (while supplies last) – North Carolina Research Campus Horseshoe; Limited tickets go on sale at 11:45 am
⚾ 7:00 pm – Kannapolis Q’s Baseball Game (Post-Game Fireworks) – Tickets
Sunday, May 7th
⚾ 1:00 pm – Kannapolis Q’s Baseball Game (Bark in the Park, Piggy Bank Giveaway, Post-Game Kids Round the Bases) – Tickets
👨🚒 Kannapolis Public Safety Assistance Foundation (Police & Fire) is bringing its cooking skills to the festival while selling barbeque to the public.
The Jiggy with the Piggy festival is hosted by the City of Kannapolis and sponsored by the Rowan CVB. Learn more about the festival on their website or Facebook page.
Planning to visit? Tell ’em Cabarrus Weekly sent ya!