Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

March 11, 2013

Pork Festival getting facelift

New business model puts festival back in black

— TIPTON — For two years now, rain and severe thunderstorms have plagued the annual Tipton County Pork Festival. But with a new business plan in place, organizers hope to have weathered the storms.

The Pork Festival suffered losses of $5,000 in 2011 and $22,000 last year as a result of the weather conditions, wiping out the organization's reserve funds.

“We have changed the business model,” Brett Curnutt, chairman of the Pork Festival committee, said Tuesday. “Currently we’re right at the point of extinction.”

Curnutt said the organization has the funding for the 45th annual Pork Festival this year.

“We have one more chance of getting it right,” he said.

The new business plan has the Pork Festival Committee having all the funds to support the festival in place before the festival on the Tipton County Courthouse square in September.

“We’re getting out of the food business,” Curnutt said. “We’ll still have the famous one-inch thick, half-pound pork chops, but we’re scaling back.”

New for 2013 will be the “Pork Court” which will be located on the parking lot to the east of the courthouse. Inside the “Pork Court” there will be ten vendors serving new menu items including baby back ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, pulled pork sundaes and tenderloins.

Curnutt said vendors that have been at the Pork Festival in the past are being given the first opportunity to locate inside the “Pork Court”. He said several vendors have already expressed an interest in taking part.

There will be picnic tables and some covered seating, he said. The covered seating will be limited.

“We have a built in profit margin that we should have by Aug. 15,” Curnutt said. “We will have enough to pay all our expenses and have some seed money for future festivals.”

Over the next five years, the Pork Festival committee hopes to upgrade the infrastructure for the festival, which was first installed in the early 1990s.

Curnutt said the festival committee is looking to increase the partnership with WWKI to bring entertainment to the festival.

“We want to bump the entertainment up and have an aggressive marketing campaign planned,” he said. “We’re looking to attract more first time visitors in addition to the 100,000 people that come to the festival on an annual basis.”

At times the committee considered moving the festival to the Tipton County Fairgrounds, but Curnutt said the organization is committed to downtown Tipton.

“The Pork Festival is alive and well,” he said.

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