Originally created 11/26/05

Crowds come from afar to strut stuff at festival



SALLEY - As Rebecca Carreon described her favorite type of chitlin - "fried" - to a group of friends, she paused for a moment with a query for her inquisitor.

"You know what a chitlin is?" said Ms. Carreon, eliciting a laugh from the group.

An important question at the Chitlin' Strut in Salley, an event that has flourished for 40 years around the fine delicacy of a pig's small intestine, otherwise known as chitterling.

Mayor Bob Salley said about 10,000 pounds of raw chitlins have been trucked in for the event, which will feature the traditional favorite of deep fried chitlins with bread, hot sauce and tea, while connoisseurs of boiled chitlins can rejoice in its addition to the menu this year.

Past years of the Thanksgiving weekend festival in "The Chitlin' Capital of the World" have drawn chitlin enthusiasts from New York to Los Angeles. This year, a film crew is obtaining footage for The Paul O'Grady Show, a popular television program in Britain, Mr. Salley said.

"It's a good time of the year for the most part," Mr. Salley said.

The Chitlin' Strut was originally created as a means to generate proceeds for municipal improvements, which is still true today, and counted 1,000 attendees its first year.

Since then, the event has expanded to include carnival rides, live country music and a beauty pageant which has crowned Merideth Watford of Darlington this year's Queen of the Chitlin' Strut and scholarship winner.

The festival, which typically attracts 30,000 to 40,000 people, always draws crowds to today's headlining event: the Chitlin' Strut.

"I've been dancing since I was a teenager," said Perry Duke of Anderson, who showed off some of his winning moves while standing in front of his mobile home. Mr. Duke is seeking his fourth consecutive triumph in the Strut Contest.

Ms. Carreon said she returns year after year to camp near the festival grounds because of the spirit of community and the hospitality of the town's residents.

"It's like a family reunion once a year," said Ms. Carreon, of Harlem. "Everybody helps everybody."

Reach Nathan Dickinson at (803) 648-1395, ext. 109, or nathan.dickinson@augustachronicle.com.

IF YOU GO



What: Chitlin' Strut



WHERE: Salley Civic Center and Fairgrounds in Salley, 20 miles east of Aiken on South Carolina Highway 394



WHEN: Today



COST: Chitlin meal $7



INFORMATION: Call Salley's town office at (803) 258-3485 or visit www.chitlinstrut.com.