What's new at this year's booze and barbecue festival Pig & Whiskey

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Usually the annual outdoor event Pig & Whiskey is held in mid-July in downtown Ferndale when the summer season seems to be at its peak. 

After taking a break in 2020 because of the you-know-what, the barbecue and whiskey event returns this year over Halloween weekend, this Friday through Sunday. There will be a seasonal theme throughout the event for both children and adults with fall cocktails from the whiskey vendors all weekend and a trick-or-treating event for kids on Sunday afternoon. 

Barbecue festival Pig & Whiskey returns to downtown Ferndale this weekend.

"It's obviously a great time in July, but fall sounded like a great idea because of all the circumstances going on. We weren't ready, and all of our partners and vendors weren't ready to commit to July and the city of Ferndale said 'Halloween weekend' and we said 'let's go,'" said festival organizer Jim Cohen. 

Besides cooler weather and a new date, the 2021 version of Pig & Whiskey will have a few other changes. The live music stage will move away from Woodward and instead will be on the east end of the festival's footprint. Many of the vendors will be in tented areas and some will be inside surrounding venues like the Loving Touch, Woodward Avenue Brewers and the Emory. 

One of the most convenient changes is the elimination of drink tickets. Instead of standing in line to buy a handful of vouchers to trade in for drinks, whiskey fans can pay each vendor directly for a shot, sipper or cocktail. Expect products from national brands like Jack Daniels and Crown Royal, but also Michigan-grown craft spirits that include Traverse City Whiskey Co. and Coppercraft Distillery. 

For subscribers:High proof: Michigan's craft spirits industry is changing the game

As for the meat, there will be barbecue vendors from Michigan and beyond, including festival veterans like Detroit BBQ Co. and chef Omar Mitchell from his latest venture, upscale Royal Oak restaurant Imaginate. 

"He brings the barbecue, he brings the turkey legs ... we're glad to have him back," said Cohen of Mitchell. Pig & Whiskey will have some vegetarian food options, too. 

Detroit News file photo of Laith Al-Saadi.

Each evening of the festival will feature local bands from the rock, indie, Americana and blues genres. "The Voice" finalist and longtime Michigan-based guitarist Laith Al-Saadi headlines Friday and cowpunk band Goober & the Peas headline Saturday. Stone Clover closes out the festival Sunday night with high-energy "paddy slag" rock. 

For Sunday's holiday, kids are welcome to trick or treat among the vendors 3-6 p.m.  

"We're expecting to see a lot of people in costume. We always have a lot of families, we always have a lot of doggies, and smack dab in the middle of Ferndale just a wonderful community situation," said Cohen, who is associate publisher of weekly publication Metro Times, which produces the event.

For sports fans, Cohen assures that there will be televisions everywhere for those looking to view Saturday's Michigan vs. Michigan State college football game. 

"I can't think of a better tailgating situation," he said. 


Twitter: @melodybaetens

Pig & Whiskey

6 p.m.-midnight Fri., 11 a.m-midnight Sat. and 11 a.m-11 p.m. Sun.

E. Nine Mile and E. Troy east of Woodward, Downtown Ferndale

Free admission


Detroit rock band Tart performs at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 30 at Pig & Whiskey in downtown Ferndale.

Music lineup


6 p.m.: Libby DeCamp

7:15 p.m.: Myron Elkins

8:30 p.m.: The Muggs

10 p.m.: Laith Al-Saadi 


5:30 p.m.: Black Note Graffiti

6:45 p.m.: Tart

8 p.m.: Missy May Ryder

9:30 p.m.: Goober and the Peas


4:45 p.m.: Jeremy Porter and the Tucos

6 p.m.: Downtown Brown

7:30 p.m.: Stone Clover