There will be a tent the size of a big top, marquee rappers and brass musicians on stage, a surprise planned with interactive LED systems, confetti cannons and the potent frozen concoction known as purple drank prepared in batches the size of oil drums.
This is how the cook-off team the Boar’s Nest approaches the task of hosting its own Friday night party at Hogs for the Cause, the annual charity food event returning this weekend.
If Saturday is the pinnacle of the two-day festival for some, with the main stage headliners performing and the barbecue award winners announced, you wouldn’t know that around the Boar’s Nest.
The team, one of the largest of the 90 that together comprise Hogs for the Cause, has embraced the Friday party as its signature happening — almost a festival within a festival for one night.
“It’s the culmination of brotherhood, fundraising, fun, with the mission of supporting this incredible charity that does such great work,” said Chris Roos, one of the team leaders.
It is also the most gonzo manifestation of what Friday night has become at Hogs for the Cause, and how Friday festivities help separate this New Orleans-bred event from other barbecue competitions around the country.
Boars pour on more
The extravaganza that Boar’s Nest now produces started out with a dozen men on the original team watching the smoker puff away on Friday night, with the Saints Super Bowl victory playing on repeat on an outdoor TV.
When Hogs for the Cause created a new award category for “Best Friday Night Party,” the team decided to dive in. Now, it’s become a way for Boar’s Nest to thank and showcase its sponsors and to bring in more money. The team sells tickets to the public through its website (theboarsnestbbq.org) for access to its tent on Friday, which functions as a private party (admission is separate and in addition to Hogs for the Cause admission).
Every year the team has raised the ante. Last year’s performer Mannie Fresh is back this time with his buddy Juvenile, the star rapper, and with Big Sam’s Funky Nation. The party site this year includes viewing platforms. LED wristbands will be part of a floor show put on by party attendees themselves.
The team has major sponsors cutting checks and supplying in-kind contributions to underwrite the party and ensure the team’s other fundraising goes to the cause.
“It has to be bigger every year,” said Boar’s Nest captain Chris Puckett. “We tell our team ‘just go, you can’t get too big or too creative.’”
Along the way, Puckett said, the event has changed from a competition to a statement. The team now invites other teams to join the party under the big tent and celebrate in a common spirit on Friday night.
“It went from ‘let’s compete’ to ‘let’s celebrate the effort and work of these teams year-round and let’s do something crazy,’” Puckett said. “It’s a vehicle to add to the excitement of what we’re all doing for Hogs, and we hope that it adds fuel to the passion of helping these families.”
Where: UNO Lakefront Arena Grounds, 6801 Franklin Ave., New Orleans
When: Friday, April 1, 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, April 2, from 11:30 a.m.
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