50th Annual Chitlin Strut brings the world to Salley

Aiken Standard file photo Aaliayah Jackson, left, Torquaze Holmes and Mikala Wright stop for a picture before digging in to their fresh funnel cakes in 2011.

This Friday and Saturday mark a special time for the Town of Salley.

It’s the Golden Anniversary of the Chitlin Strut celebration, where more than half-a-million pounds of the Southern delicacy have been consumed by approximately a million visitors over the past 50 years on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

It’s time to put away the turkey leftovers and fire up the fryer and boiler for some pig intestines.

At 6 p.m. Friday, the Chitlin Strut Idol contest will be held at the Salley Civic Center.

Events on Saturday begin as early as 7 a.m. and will last all day, ending with a fireworks show at 6:30 p.m. at the festival grounds. The festival site address is 230 Pine St. N.W., Salley.

The Chitlin Strut Parade down Main Street will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday.

This Saturday is also Chitlin Strut Day across the state, as a resolution passed by the S.C. House of Representatives on April 29 honors the long-standing Salley tradition.

The resolution was introduced by S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, and was adopted the same day.

Taylor represents Salley and the many other small towns in District 86, such as Wagener and Perry, in what he calls the “corner of the county.”

Taylor said at the time the resolution was introduced, his main goal was “not only to draw attention, but to also applaud those people who put in the hard work” that goes into putting on the festival.

“It is a great spirit of a small town,” Taylor said in April.

The first Chitlin Strut was held in 1966, showcasing events such as an annual parade and strut contest, not to mention plenty of food and chitlins for festivalgoers.

Salley is known as the Chitlin Capitol of the World, and residents take their chitlins seriously, passing an ordinance on Chitlin Strut Day that ensures folks in Salley get their fill of chitlins.

Salley Town Council passed a resolution that on Chitlin Strut Saturday, no outdoor cookers in town will be permitted within the town limits so that residents can enjoy the tradition of chitlins, according to the town’s website.

Chitlins come fried or boiled over a bed of rice with a side slice of bread and a beverage.

The aroma of cooking chitlins is an acquired scent, but that never stops visitors near and far from flocking to Salley on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the town’s annual tradition.

Activities scheduled for this year’s 50th Anniversary Chitlin Strut celebration include a parade, a variety of food vendors, arts and craft vendors, carnival and entertainment.

Members of the “Lizard Lick Towing” cast will be available for autographs and pictures; and there will be a souvenir shop, hog-calling contest, Strut dance contest, fireworks, a pageant, CWA Wrestling, Chitlin Strut Idol contest and, of course, the piece de resistance, all the boiled and fried chitlins one can eat.

For more information, visit www.chitlinstrut.com.

Dan Brown is the government beat reporter for the Aiken Standard.