Ferndale fest displays flavors of pig, whiskey

Patrick Dunn
Special to The Detroit News

When Ferndale’s Pig & Whiskey festival debuted seven years ago, organizer Jim Cohen says the event was right on the cusp of multiple crucial trends.

“Right now there’re a lot of rib fests,” says Cohen, associate publisher of the Metro Times, which sponsors Pig & Whiskey. “But it was pretty original when we started. It struck a chord because whiskey is very hot and barbecue is very hot, and Ferndale is very hot.”

The event’s popularity has increased steadily along with interest in those three key elements, and organizers expect a record crowd of 60,000 this year. In anticipation, Pig & Whiskey will expand from a single block of Ferndale’s East Troy to also include a block of East Nine Mile.

The increased festival footprint will mean more food vendors and drink options. Eighteen area barbecue joints and restaurants have signed up. Libations will flow freely as well; with more than 70 whiskeys and 100 beers available. Cohen says last year’s Pig & Whiskey attendees consumed 2,100 bottles of whiskey and 380 barrels of beer.

Aaron Cozadd, chef at Berkley’s Vinsetta Garage and Clarkston’s Union Woodshop, will be serving up pulled pork and bacon sliders as he’s done every year since the first festival. Although he participates in other summer events, Cozadd says he and his staff always pour the most resources into Pig & Whiskey and get the most enjoyment in return.

Chef Aaron Cozadd continues his yearly tradition at the expanded festival of serving pulled pork and bacon sliders.

“For us, it’s just exactly what we do,” Cozadd says. “I don’t know if you could describe what the Woodshop does better than ‘pig and whiskey.’ ”

But there’s more to Pig & Whiskey than just the consumables in the name. The festival also includes a robust music lineup including local favorites like Electric Six, the HandGrenades and Joe Hertler &the Rainbow Seekers.

The crown jewel of this year’s lineup is a rare performance by the offbeat Detroit-based country-rock band Goober & the Peas. Cohen describes the set as a “triumphant return,” following up the band’s “massive” performance two years ago. The band drew some national acclaim in the ’90s, then disappeared for a decade. The Peas reunited in 2009 and have played very sporadic shows since then.

Detroit-based country-rock band Goober & the Peas return to perform at the popular Ferndale festival over the weekend.

So what prompted the band to take on its first new gig since last summer?

“When somebody waves some cash in front of our nose and tells us to jump, we pretty much say, ‘How high?,’ sadly,” says frontman Dan John Miller. “But it’s the way of the world. A lot of people won’t admit that, but that’s how we do it.”

Take Miller’s comments with a grain of salt, however. The band is well known for its sardonic humor, and Miller remained in character as his stage persona “Goober” for an interview. He asserts that the band will give “upwards of 85 percent of what we have in the tank” at Pig & Whiskey, noting that meteorological conditions are ideal for his standard gimmick of scattering bales of hay around as he performs.

“With the drought this year everything’s very crispy and light and airy,” he says. “If we get a nice headwind we should have a pretty good show from that perspective, as far as hay flying.”

Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.

Pig and Whiskey 2016

6 p.m.-midnight Fri.; 11 a.m.-midnight Sat.; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.

Nine Mile and Troy at Woodward, Ferndale



Music schedule (set times TBA):


Electric Six

Stone Clover

Holy White Hounds

Le Voyage


Goober and the Peas

The HandGrenades

Earth Engine



The Blueflowers

American Mars



Mustard Plug

Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers



Jill Jack

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Kevin Thibodeau