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Pig Out in the Park: Some new food, lower prices

Maximum price for entrees dips to $8.75 this year

I hope you’ve been fasting. Or, that there’s a little bit of give in the waistband of your pants.

Yep, it’s Pig Out time again. That wonderful time of year when we all pretend the calories in a funnel cake evaporate if we stand while we eat it; that chocolate-covered bananas still count toward our daily servings of fruit; and that 50 ways to love your love handles isn’t really so bad.

When you pick up a flier to plan your gastronomic assault at Pig Out in the Park this year, the first thing you might notice is that the tab has dipped again slightly. Prices peaked in 2008 at $9.95. Last year, organizers knocked a dollar off the most expensive entrees. Organizer Bill Burke says he slightly lowered the maximum price for eats again to $8.75.

“With the current economy, it just seemed to be the right thing to do,” Burke wrote in a message. “Friends do business with friends.”

The 31st annual event launches today at noon in Riverfront Park with 50 booths, more than 225 entrees, three beer and wine gardens and live music every day through Labor Day. There’s no admission fee.

All of the details for the six-day food and music extravaganza can be found online at

Barbecue fanatics will find a lot to love on the menu: pulled pork, barbecue beef, grilled chicken with coleslaw and ribs.

Looking for seafood? There are fish tacos, shrimp tacos, shrimp bowls, fish and chips, surf and turf skewers and fried catfish.

Want dessert first? You won’t be looking long. There’s chocolate-dipped cheesecake, baklava, rice pudding, ice cream, cinnamon rolls, funnel cakes, caramel apples, elephant ears, chocolate-dipped berries, bananas and pineapple, coconut cream pie, gourmet cupcakes, fudge, huckleberry pie and tres leche cake – just to name a few.

Perhaps fried foods are your favorite splurge? Don’t get me started. There’s everything from Snickers bars to bread.

Ethnic dishes at this year’s event include Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, German, Italian, Korean, Indian, Native American, American, Bavarian, Spanish, French, Jordanian, Russian, Hawaiian, Thai and other Middle Eastern foods, organizers say.

For those new to the area, Pig Out in the Park began in 1979 with 28 food vendors (and the smoke from their grills) under two tents. They served food for three days. Over the years, the number of vendors, music and munchers has grown.

New to this year’s festivities are a few favorite chains and some new local restaurants and stores, Burke says.

A&W Restaurant is busting out its famous foot-long Coney dogs. Bruchi’s is bringing cheese steaks and subs.

The menu listing for the new Taco Del Mar booth is confusing, but owner Matt Rai says it was just a newbie mistake.

He’s the owner of the Taco Del Mar in downtown Spokane, but the Pig Out in the Park booth won’t be serving the restaurant’s food. Instead he’s planning an Indian-inspired menu that includes tandoori chicken, turkey sliders infused with Indian spices, samosa and rice pudding. The booth will be called The Indian Affair, he says.

Churchill’s Steakhouse is the surprise in this year’s lineup. Prime beef isn’t exactly synonymous with Pig Out in the Park and that’s why I’ll be checking it out. On the menu: roast beef sandwich, hand-cut fries with Cougar Gold cheese sauce and grill-roasted corn on the cob.

The White House Restaurant of Post Falls (and soon Spokane’s South Hill) will serve a spicy rice bowl with shrimp and vegetables, Greek salad with chicken and baklava.

Owners of Spokane’s new El Mercado del Pueblo are braving the crowds to bring tamales, beans and rice and tres leches cake to the park.

Amanda’s Catering, based in Spokane Valley, is serving up gourmet cupcake flavors.

The Slawter Chicken booth is also new this year with grilled chicken and coleslaw for the masses. Owner Jim Ammons also serves up roasted corn at the Southern Roasted Corn booth.

Based in Ford, Wash., Salazar’s Ecuadorean BBQ will offer oven-roasted Ecuadorian pork, red beans and rice, garlic fries and sweet potato fries.

Top Chef Concessions, based in Cle Elum, Wash., will serve cod fillet with hand-cut fries. They’ll also have surf and turf skewers, garlic parmesan cheese fries and coconut cream pie.

Here’s my advice if this is your first Pig Out: Bring a friend. Share. You’ll thank me for it in the morning.