The Pig & Whiskey festival will return to downtown Ferndale Oct. 29-31. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event hasn’t been held since 2019.

The Pig & Whiskey festival will return to downtown Ferndale Oct. 29-31. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event hasn’t been held since 2019.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

Pig & Whiskey scheduled for 3-day return in October

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 1, 2021


FERNDALE — The organizers of the Pig & Whiskey festival have announced that it will be coming back for three days Oct. 29-31. It will be the first time the event has been held since 2019.

The festival, which has brought thousands of people into downtown Ferndale to drink and eat barbecue, was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When it came time to decide whether they wanted to put on the Pig & Whiskey festival this year, organizer Chris Johnston said they didn’t feel safe bringing it back for its normal month of July.

“(We) didn’t really feel safe or secure in even talking about a July event,” he said. “It didn’t feel right planning and it takes the wind off your sails when you’re just worried about day-to-day stuff. ... We didn’t even want to start talking about a July event because it just tasted bad in our mouths.”

The next available date to bring the event back was in October, which at first led organizers to believe it was too late, but later they felt it might be a nice change of pace and they had peace of mind once people started getting COVID-19 vaccines.

Johnston, who owns the WAB and The Emory, knows there’s always a chance things might change and they’ll be forced to cancel, whether it’s from a spike in coronavirus cases or something else. He said they’ve always fallen on the side of caution and safety and that if he’s learned anything over the last 18 months, it’s that you can’t predict what’s going to happen.

“You just have to be able to adapt to it, and if adapting to it means not having the event or doing something differently, then that’s what you have to do,” he said. “I think we’ve all gotten really good at doing that, but because of the nature of the other business I’m involved with, I think we’ve gotten especially good at following the rules and being safe.”

Johnston described himself as a person who likes creating something that a lot of people can enjoy, which is why he went into the restaurant business and why he launched Pig & Whiskey.

The event is accepting applications for restaurants, vendors, sponsorships and musicians to take part in the festival. Those interested can reach out to Johnston at

Johnston noted that Pig & Whiskey would not be in danger of being canceled if they didn’t get a certain number of sponsors, as it isn’t a “make or break” situation for the event itself.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for The Front Porch earlier this summer.

The festival, which was scheduled to take place June 26, was canceled in the weeks leading up to the event. In a Facebook post, event organizers stated that there were “too many factors that impeded our ability to successfully pull off the event this year,” including the lack of sponsorships to cover The Front Porch’s operational costs.

“As previously mentioned, many organizations still have a ‘freeze’ on sponsorship spend/commitments,’” the post reads.

“We also considered potentially executing a crowd sourcing/GoFundMe campaign … but in the end with essentially 4-weeks to our planned date it would have been too much for us to pull together, especially if we were not guaranteed raising those needed funds,” the post continued. “Additionally, while we were seeing a significant appetite for the event this year with many pandemic guidelines/protocols still in place and not being lifted by the state until July 1, we were unsure of the actual interest by attendees we would have experienced this year.”

The organizers expressed gratitude for the musicians and those who were interested in hosting performances on their porches, and they stated their intent to host The Front Porch in 2022.

“We believe it best to postpone just one more year,” the post states. “This decision falls in line with many other events and festivals that have made this same difficult decision.”