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Melissa Black in a pig costume, November 1999
Clowning around at the 34th Annual Chitlin Strut Beauty Pageant, November 26, 1999 Photo: Betty L. Salley

Chitlin' Strut

Originating in 1966 when the Mayor Jack Able was looking for a way to raise funds for new Christmas decorations for the town of Salley, the Chitlin' Strut has been held ever since on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Able and two Salley town councilmen visited Ben Dekle, a county & western disc jockey on a local radio station, who came up with the idea. Dekle said he had always dreamed of a "Chitlin' Strut," but never had found anyone with the "guts" to host one. Able rose to the challenge, and hosted the first strut on November 26, 1966. The main focus of the festival is the preparation and consumption of large amounts of chitterlings ("chitlins"), otherwise known as boiled and fried hog intestines.

The first Strut was attended by more than 1,000 people who consumed over 600 pounds of chitlins, along with barbecue pork and chicken. The next year attendance topped 2,500 and has grown every year since to an annual average crowd of 40,000 - 60,000, who consume more than 10,000 pounds of chitlins. It is estimated that over 128,000 pounds of chitlins have been eaten during the festival's 34-year history. Campground accommodations are provided for attendees; each November campers look forward to a reunion with fellow campers met over the years. Proceeds from the Strut go toward town improvements. When a new fire engine was purchased, the old 1929 Buick fire truck became a part of the festivities, displayed at every Strut. And when the Salley Public School was closed after a district consolidation, proceeds from the Strut allowed the purchase of the facility for the Strut as well as for other community activities.

1971 was the inaugural year for the Chitlin' Strut parade which officially begins the celebration. Other highlights of the festivities are a beauty pageant, displays of 100 arts and crafts vendors, a rides for the children, and a country music show in the school auditorium followed by dancing for the audience. Salley, the uncontested "Chitlin Capital of the World," has been featured in major magazines such as Southern Living and Newsweek, newspapers such as the international Herald Tribune, in the World Book Encyclopedia, as well as on national television.

Documentation includes a five-page description of the Chitlin' Strut, ten 8 x 10 photos with descriptions, a cassette tape of the Chitlin' Strut song, souvenir program books for all 34 struts, promotional brochures, magazine articles from 1990-99, and newspaper clippings for all years dating back to 1967.

Originally submitted by: Strom Thurmond, Senator.



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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