QUINCY -- PigFest might become an annual tradition thanks to great food, music and a crowd supporting a local cause.
Saturday's PigFest at the Oakley-Lindsay Center featured pork offerings from 12 local restaurants and caterers. It raised money for the Quincy Bay Area Restoration and Enhancement Association and the effort to save Quincy Bay from silting full.
"We've got the attention of the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers and we need to keep ourselves in front of them," Rob Ebbing said.
Ebbing, executive director of the OLC, is an avid boater and member of QBAREA. He said many organizations and individuals have called for dredging the bay for 25 years or more. Now federal grant dollars are helping restore the natural habitat along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. QBAREA members hope to win a grant to help restore the bay.
"The Corps was extremely surprised by the level of support we had for this project," Ebbing said.
Dredging the bay could cost $20 million.
PigFest isn't meant to generate money for that work, but will give QBAREA the seed money needed to work on grant applications.
Glenn Sanders, president of the Mississippi Valley Hunters and Fishermen's Association, said that if something isn't done soon the bay will be lost for recreational uses and for wildlife.
Sanders said plans for the bay also will correct problems with a cut-through that allows silt and mud to funnel through the bay. A dike with riprap would be created with a notch only big enough to allow boats to get through.
"The cut-through was only made 6 feet deep, but it eventually scoured out until it was 40 feet deep. That meant a lot of water went through and dropped that silt and sand" in the bay, Sanders said.
While organizers were excited about Quincy Bay, many attending were passionate about sampling pork dishes while listening to music from Off the Wall and Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters.
Stephanie Drunker from On the Rail, 129 N. Fourth, brought pulled pork as well as a new pork sandwich that features a mustard base and cole slaw.
Drakes Steak and Ale, 201 South Third, had pulled pork, baked beans and $5 off coupons for the restaurant.
"We're getting our name and our food out there to bring more people in," said Nathan Stice.
Cindy Verduzco of Los Molcajetes at 340 S. 36th, brought pork tacos.
"We heard about this from one of our clients. We've been in business for 10 months and this helps us let more people know about our food," Verduzco said.
PigFest took a new spin on WingFest, which has been held at the OLC for several years in the spring. Ebbing hopes vendors like the event and want to continue it.