Pig on the Pond

Over the years, Pig on the Pond has grown to become one of the top festivals in Central Florida. Both photos courtesy Project Scholars.

After a year’s hiatus brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pig on the Pond Community Festival, presented by Advent Health and the City of Clermont, returns Oct. 15–17 to Waterfront Park, located at 330 3rd Street in Clermont.

Voted one of the most popular in central Florida, the three-day festival will feature a carnival, barbecue, live music, Kids Zone, racing pigs, games, fireworks and more.

Paul Rountree, president of Project Scholars, the nonprofit event host, said this year’s festival will include several new additions.

“We wanted to ensure that it was packed with fun, because we think the community is ready to celebrate,” Rountree said.

New activities and attractions include a new, larger carnival; the inaugural Junior Grillmasters Competition; a beer garden; an expanded Kids Zone and Star Wars characters’ appearance, as well as return of the popular barbecue contest.

Returning to help kick off the event on Oct. 15 will be the popular Chili Cook-Off. The festival also will feature a variety of musical acts playing everything from country music to pop to classic rock. The event includes festival food, a barbecue row, dozens of vendors with games and activities, a race car, boats, helicopter and more.

The festival began years ago as a one-day BBQ competition started by Cheryl Fishel, who passed away in July 2020 from leukemia. The event was established to raise scholarship money to enable a student in need to attend college. Eventually, the event evolved into Pig on the Pond, because the BBQ competition was held at Lake Minneola.

The first years of the scholarship, a student in need was selected and awarded a scholarship. He or she then received a lesser amount the second year of college.

Eventually, though, the program was expanded to award scholarships to four individuals. From there, the decision was made to award four-year scholarships to each of the four selected.

To date, Pig on the Pond has funded more than $400,000 in scholarships benefiting more than 300 students.

For many years it was a sanctioned event, according to Doris Bloodworth, who is handling public information for the organization. However, the barbeque competition was overshadowing the purpose of the event, the scholarship itself, and discontinued.

“We’re bringing it back this year, but it will be a People’s Choice competition,” said Bloodsworth. 

Because of the pandemic, it was not possible to pay tribute to Fishel until this year’s event.

“She was an amazing woman,” said Bloodsworth, who said she was in marvel of Fishel’s passion and drive. “You didn’t say no to her.”

“At 2:30 p.m., Saturday (Oct. 16), there will be a ceremony honoring her, with a butterfly release,” Bloodsworth said. “We’re really dedicating this year to her.”

Of the four students selected as scholarship recipients, the student who is deemed to have done the most in service to the community will receive the new Cheryl Fishel Plaque. To further honor Fishel’s memory, volunteers will wear pink ribbons bearing the initials of Cheryl Fishel.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Oct. 17 is Kids and Seniors Discount Day, when children and 65-plus seniors are admitted for $2.

More details and competition applications are available at www.pigonthepond.org.

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