Chitlin' Strut of Salley, South Carolina
A Celebration of Hog Guts! The Chitlin' Strut of South Carolina
Each November, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the residents of Salley, South Carolina host the Chitlin' Strut. An event to raise money for renovations around the town, this annual event attracts chitlin' lovers from all over the country.
Parades, beauty pageants, dance contests, face painting, live music, and chitlins by the plateful; there's something for everyone at the Chitlin' Strut!
History of the Chitlin' Strut
Back in 1965, the Mayor of Salley, South Carolina noticed the town's Christmas lights needed some fixin', so the residents decided to host a festival to raise money. The town came up with the idea of celebrating the local delicacy of chitlins. The local disc jockey advertised it on the radio, and about 100 people showed up!
Now, that might not seem like many people to you. However, the town of Salley is less than a square mile in area, and there are only around 400 people living in the town! If only a quarter of them showed up, that's not too bad.
The first Chitlin' Strut was such a success, that it has been held every year since. It has grown from a simple celebration to a full-blown affair! Attendance has increased to around 50,000 people, and 128,000 pounds of chitlins have been served over the years. With all this money, the town even purchased a brand new fire truck!
What Are Chitlins?
Chitlin' is short for chitterlings. These are pig intestines, otherwise known as hog guts, and they can be boiled or fried.
They are quite a delicacy in the south, and I've eaten them quite a few times. While they may not sound appetizing, they can be quite tasty!
Chitlin' Strut Events
The Chitlin Strut is an all day event that begins at 8:00 am. It lasts until 8:00 pm, so be certain to wear comfortable shoes. Pets are allowed, as long as they are on a leash.
On the Friday night before the event, the Chitlin' Strut beauty pageant is held. There are two categories: The first is for girls 0-4 years old. The second category is for girls 5 and older. Think "Toddlers and Tiaras" to get an idea of what the pageant is like.
Following the pageant, a soup and cornbread supper is held, followed by a movie.
Early on Saturday morning, the festivities begin! During the day, enjoy a carnival with rides; concession stands, arts & craft booths, music by local bands, and of course, platefuls of chitlins. The main events include:
- A pancake breakfast at the Masonic Lodge
- The Chitlin' Strut Parade, which begins at 10:00 am. It is led by a giant pink pig, mascot of the Chitlin' Fest.
- Helicopter and Carnival rides
- Chitlin' Strut Idol Contest - A singing contest much like American Idol
- A Car and Bike Show, held on the Festival Grounds
- Pictures with Santa Claus
- The Hog Calling contest
- The Chitlin' Eating Contest
- The Chitlin' Strut Contest, which is a dance competition
Highlights from past struts
Hold Your Own Chitlin' Strut!
If you can't make it to Salley, South Carolina for the Official Chitlin' Strut, you can throw your own at home! A great way to spend an evening with your friends and family - or make it a neighborhood block party!
Tip: Just make certain to cook your chitlins outside, as the smell can be a bit overwhelming!
Items Needed For Your Own Strut Party
Whether you've decided on a small party or neighborhood gathering, plan on holding your Chitlin' Strut outdoors. The bigger the area, the more people who will attend. Plus, having it outside will allow for easier cleaning: Just use a water hose or power washer.
- Seating: It's best to have plenty of seating, since it's an all day event, and your guests will tire. Consider bringing in some bales of hay for seating. Once the party is over, you can feed it to livestock, or use it for Thanksgiving decorations
- Electricity: You'll need a power supply, whether it's electric outlets or a portable generator. With this, you'll need a microphone for announcements, hog calling, and for singers for the Chitlin' Strut Idol Contest
- Dance Floor: It's not a strut if there's no room for dancing! A driveway, street, or any other flat surface will do. If you don't have a place on your lawn that is readily available, hire someone to blade an area.
Games for Your Strut
Horseshoe tournaments are fairly popular at country events, so this set will prove to be a winner. Just set up the steel stakes, and get to tossin'!
For more enjoyment, set up a washers toss. Each contestant attempts to throw their colored washer into the target holes. Start this game early, especially if you're serving "adult" beverages.
Concessions - Food & drink for your festivities
For your Chitlin Strut, you'll need the proper food. While turkey legs, barbecue sandwiches or hot dogs are allowed, you're paying homage to the hog, and need the proper ingredients:
- Chitlins or chitterlings: You can purchase them at your local grocery store, or slaughter your own hog. Your choice.
- Side dishes for your chitlins. Turnip greens and cornbread are great accompaniments for your chitterlings. Add some corn on the cob, a few jalapenos, and a dessert of peach cobbler, and you'll be all set!
- Adult Beverages. Wine doesn't go too well with chitlins, so plan to purchase a case or two of beer. If it's a large gathering, consider going all out, and getting a keg. If you don't drink alcoholic beverages, sweet tea or lemonade is the way to go.
A Mess of Chitlins
If you're going to hold your own Strut, you'll need a recipe for cooking chitlins. Here are two of the best:
Before you begin the main festivities, you'll need to have your parade! Designate someone as the "head hog", and dress him/her up as a pig. This will be the mascot for your Chitlin' Strut, and will lead the parade through your yard or neighborhood.
Now, you don't have to offer the same events as Salley's Chitlin' Strut. You might want to add a few of your own, or just pick and choose among the events available. Here are some ideas:
- Beauty Pageant: If you want to dress your little darlings up in their best, hold the pageant in the morning. That way, they can win their prizes, get something to eat, then sent on their way before the main festivities begin
- Carnival Rides: It is doubtful you'll have a ferris wheel or other midway rides. A bounce house is easy to rent for the children. Otherwise, set up a horseshoe toss, a basketball hoop, or other sporting event of your choice. If you have a tractor and trailer, gather up some of those hay bales and offer a hay ride.
- Music: If you don't know of any local bands, a simple stereo system will work. Just about any type of music will work, as long as it isn't classical. Country music or pop works the best for this crowd.
- Garage Sale: Instead of having vendors at your Chitlin' Strut, consider having a garage sale. That way, you can sell your junk to your friends, which will benefit you both!
- Eating Contests: If you want to save your chitlins for the main meal, replace them in the eating contests with other forms of pork: feet, jowls, or even hot dogs will work.
- Hog Calling Contest: Not much set-up is required for this contest. While it is nice to have a microphone, a person skilled in calling doesn't need one. It does help to amplify it around the neighborhood, however.
- Chitlin' Strut: It's best to hold this contest at the end of the night, after everyone has had plenty to drink. Get the participants on their feet at the same time, play some good hoe-down music, and get 'em strutting their stuff. Whoops and hollers are encouraged and expected, and will help the Judges make the right choice.