WVLP’s Annual Hog Roast has become a Valparaiso tradition. Originally known as the Community dinner, the event sponsored by local radio station WVLP, brings together local musicians with local catering to provide the delicious taste of a backyard hog roast right in the heart of Valparaiso.
Held at the Butterfield Pavilion in the Old Fairgrounds Park, the event draws between 100 – 130 people each year. Tickets cost $20 a person and children under 12 eat free when accompanied by a paying adult. All proceeds from the all-you-can-eat affair go to benefit the radio station.
Gregg Kovach, Executive Director of WVLP and our host for the evening, took time out from his last-minute preparations to sit down with us and discuss the event.
“This is one of our biggest events of the year,” said Kovach. “The Annual Hog Roast, along with our Stars Over Valpo event, are where we meet roughly one-third of our annual operating budget. This event is completely presented by the staff at WVLP. We arrange it, do the promotion and handle ticket sales, and we’re here to make sure that everyone who comes out here tonight to help support our radio station receives a high-quality meal along with a fine evening of entertainment.”
The event’s food was prepared by KP’s Catering, owned by Kevin Peddersen, who was busy working the grill just outside the pavilion, the rich smell of the roast wafting inside the building, creating a welcoming smell for the guests who quickly filled the building.
“This is a family event. It’s important for us to be able to present a terrific evening of food and entertainment for our amazing supporters who come out to support the station. We feel that this is a great evening out for local families. Parents can come out, bring the kids and the whole family can eat all they want for $40,” said Kovach.
The evening’s entertainment was provided by local musicians, including Mickey Camp, Joel Hickman, Dot Pakan and Paul Schreiner who presented a mostly acoustic, largely folk-oriented set.
“There’s not many towns here in Northwest Indiana who do this, who have live radio, with actual personalities presenting locally-sourced, original programming. That’s something I’m really proud of, and I feel that we are the best we’ve ever been,” said Kovach. “We have the best crew of people I’ve ever seen right now, and it just keeps getting better.
Kovach also gave a special shout-out to local resident Mike Willard, host of “House Rap” on WVLP, for donating the hog for the event, as the buffet table was set with a full range of choices, from pulled pork to chicken and pasta sides, beans, rolls, veggie fare, soda, iced tea, beverages, and homemade desserts.
Other notables included Michael Austin, who lives at the Life Care Center of the Willows in Valparaiso, and co-hosts a weekly radio show, Earworm Soup, which can be heard every Tuesday from 11am to noon.
“We play a wide variety of music, from the 40’s to today. Each show, we pick a particular year and play only music from that year, without regard to genre,” said Austin.
Michael’s co-host, Robyn Rutar, Life Enrichment Director at the Willows, helps Michael pick the music and facilitates the show.
“He picks a lot of different songs... he picks rock, he picks country… just a wide variety,” said Rutar. “We have a lot of fun. We get suggestions from other residents and nurses there at the Willows. It’s really a fun show.”
Valparaiso residents Tom and Karen Muchesko enjoyed the food and entertainment.
“We like to support WVLP. We listen to it whenever we can,” said Tom. “It’s wonderful to have this type of event right here in town. It’s nice to come here, visit with friends, neighbors, hear some good music and eat some great food. It’s just a terrific sense of community here. It’s nice to live here in a small town.”
By the way, Muchesko recommends the strawberry pie.
“It’s delicious!” he said, taking another bite.
Be sure to tune into WVLP, 103.1FM, or listen to them online.