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I've got plenty of time so far. Event will be around Smyrna TN in November sometime. No plans/decisions have been made as to technique, gear, fuel etc. That's why I want to leave it open ended for any/all information. This is not a competition but rather a "perk" of attending a Christian hunter gathering with around five to six thousand expected. Atmosphere will be carnival with rides, C&W singers/stars etc. Focus will be inspiration, education, demonstration. So, I need to learn it all. My responsibilities will be to cook the hog(s) as required and supervise the team of volunteers providing the leg work and hands on "gopher" and sweat and blood labor. Since hunters will be involved I'm thinking of asking my group to provide wild hogs/pigs as the primary ingredient. May be able to hopefully coordinate the date with some additional wild game season provisions as well. (I hope, I hope, I hope!)
Well, by using wild hogs, you'll triple the difficulty of the event because the hogs will vary so much in size and composition. Some will cook in 6 hrs. while others may take 16hrs.

Assuming an average weight of 200#, you'll need 35-40 hogs to feed 5-6000 people (figuring on 150 people per hog). If you could do a few whole hogs for show and feed the rest in shoulders, your life would be much simpler.

This might be the time to find one of those guys with a semi-sized cooker and get them in there.

Or, plan on either digging a pit or constructing one above ground, and then having lots of wood on hand to furnish coals. Also, plan on not sleeping for a couple of days. Smiler If you do a pit, think about 4' in length per split hog, and about 5' in width, so 160' x 5'. About 3.5' deep(or the same tall if above ground), lined with solid cinder blocks on sides and bottom, rebar for support, lots of hog wire to provide a cooking grid, and tin or similar material to cover it with. The expense of this material alone is why I said that you might want to hire one of the giant cooker guys.

Consistency is really everything in such a large event. Here is a picture of one I've been involved with several times over the years. It's a fire fighters fund raiser that usually feeds about 2-3000 people. In the beginning, different fire stations in the county would each bring their cookers and prepare either pork or chicken as required for that years event, but as the event grew, the cook times between the different types of cookers and cooks become so varied that the county eventually bought each station an identical cooker and sent everybody to a class so that they could produce the food in a manageable fashion. Now each station brings their cookers and everybody is on the same time table. The picture shows the result.



The good thing is you are thinking ahead and planning will be everything! My company catered the Bass Masters Classic twice in the mid-'90's for about 6000 people each time. BBQ, ribs, prime rib, shrimp, and a bunch of other stuff at about a dozen food stations. The planning and organization required is pretty straight forward, its finding the cooking and refer capacity that's difficult. Imagine 1000 slabs of ribs, 3000# of butts, 1800# of boiled shrimp, etc. It's the quantity that gets you. Christian folk or not, if you can't produce the food for this many people efficiently, you might become famous as being the Christian Woodstock of 2009! I've seen some church folks get downright primal Sunday afternoon at the salad bar. Smiler

Your food supplier will be your best source of refer trucks, but cooking will take the most planning. I mentioned wood earlier. It's a total guess because so much depends on the type of pit you construct and the ambient temp, rain, snow, etc, but I'm thinking you might need to plan on 1000# of wood per hog. (I can actually visualize the amount you'd need per hog, but the weight is a guess)

I can tell you how to do it, but if you don't have the expertise within your organization I would advise you to hire a consultant to assist in the planning and be there during the event. Seeing the site first hand and understanding the challenges is very important.
Last edited by toddg
To tag onto Todd,who gave great input,large volume commercial hog cooks,are doable, by folks that do these things,but wild hogs are "a different animal".

Most of us have cooked one and parts,to prove we could do it.

Nothing like a hundred wild hogs that have been living on the garbage dump for years,and might be 10-15 years old. Eeker

Around here,on a hunt for most game,you shoot wild hogs with your sidearm.

They destroy subdivisions,golf courses,public parks,etc.

Commercial trappers are contracted to eradicate large herds.

Just something to ponder. Smiler
Hey Pawclaws, what is this
quote:
Company QMSgt and Instructor of Cooks, Mosby's Raiders Light Artillery. CSA


If you're a Master Sgt. in the Army and train cooks, I'd feel pretty stupid trying to teach you anything since you've likely forgotten more than I've ever known.

But, one other thought is: make sure that you have plenty of DEDICATED help. This much food will require a lot of prep, so these people will have to show up planning on a 6-8 hour shift of actual work. My luck usually has me getting volunteer help that wants to socialize 45 minutes of every hour until they just drift off after about two hours. Also, understand that even willing folks may not be able to stand and work that long unless they're used to doing so. Plan accordingly.

Slaw can be ordered already chopped or shredded from your food supplier and just needs to be sauced and mixed. Potatoes can be ordered pre-diced for potato salad, but you'll have to cook them. Beans can be placed into hotel pans and chilled, but allow plenty of time to reheat as they'll burn if you rush them. You'll need about 10 gallons of sauce for every 1000 ppl. 1oz of dried pasta makes about 1 serving of ready to eat pasta salad, so you'll need to cook 62# of pasta per 1000 ppl. About 95 gallons of something to drink per 1000 ppl.

And about the volume. I grew up doing the International Home Furnishing Show twice a year for my family's restaurants. Once you survive that twice a year hell week, anything that might actually be over in one day looks pretty easy. We'd go seven days straight at 3-5000 catered meals a day without going home. When you get lost in the bathroom, or worse yet, fall asleep in there, you know you've reached the end of your rope. I've actually spoken to people before about 3 days into the market, only to realize a little later that what I said was total gibberish. In my mind it made sense, but I wasn't even using real words. We used to call it market speak. Smiler

http://www.highpointmarket.org/AboutMarket.aspx
Super! Smiler I'm a pretty fair cook. Have done some commercial stuff. Have handled around four hundred. Nothing like the hell's kitchen you have survived. You must remember the Confederacy relied pretty much on whatever the local indigenous population could provide voluntarily or otherwise and the collective culinary expertise of the volunteer combat force at hand. As a re-enactment venture, "No Problem!" No refrigeration available, no Health Department, plenty of manpower, lots of shovels for digging fire pits, bean holes, etc. Might be a smart thing to approach the task in this manner. Again, I appreciate all of your advice and counsel! Big Grin

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