Supporting kids in hospitals one BBQ plate at a time

Published: Nov. 11, 2023 at 10:00 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2023 at 11:20 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Thousands of plates of chicken, oysters and hogs lined North Charleston’s Riverfront Park for the third annual Holy Smokes BBQ Festival.

This festival originally started with four pitmasters deciding Charleston needed its own festival for meat lovers like them. Since then, the festival has grown from 24 pitmasters to over 50 who come all the way from Los Angeles to Connecticut and everywhere in between.

“So, the first year started with us calling in favors,” Anthony Dibernardo, one of the event’s co-founders and owner and pitmaster at Swig & Swine BBQ said. “We called in everybody that we knew that owed us a favor or we had gone and cooked for before. We had called them to start. And then, as that 24 happened, then people started calling us and they wanted to be involved and it kind of just grew from there.”

Folks were able to snack on different dishes from chicken to oysters to sausage, and of course the BBQ. Dibernardo said it’s not just the food that keeps people coming back year after year.

“I think the experience,” Dibernardo said. “The quality of the BBQ, the setup, the entertainment and the cause.”

Dibernardo said this nonprofit event raises 50% of its proceeds to Hogs for the Cause, a foundation that treats children with pediatric brain cancer and the other 50% goes towards the downtown Ronald McDonald house.

He said last year, $90,000 made sure every bathroom was renovated in the house and they’re currently working on replacing the carpet.

“How can we help the families?” Dibernardo said. “And that’s our big thing. We’re here for the families. We want to help families. We want to make families hospital stays, as it’s probably the most unpleasant time in their lives. So, how can we help them with that.”

If you missed the festival or want an excuse to go back for more, Dibernardo said to stay on the lookout for the Rock the Block event in front of the downtown Home Team BBQ location when February rolls around.

If you wish to donate to the causes directly, check out the following links: