HOG HEAVEN: Tailgater displays hog head for every Arkansas game

Published 11:08 am Friday, October 8, 2021

The Grove on Saturdays in the fall provides many special moments and conversation starters from decked out tents with chandeliers to massive food spreads that would make buffets jealous, but John Lewis may have the best attraction going.

Since 2005, Lewis has cooked a whole hogs head for every Ole Miss home football game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. He then decorates it with pink zinnias, an added layer that gets every passerby’s attention without fail.

Lewis is going bigger and better for this year’s hog’s head, which he gets from every other year from Pitcock Meat Processors in Batesville.

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“The one I got this year is a lot bigger. It’s a big boy. That head weighs 26 pounds,” Lewis said.

How Lewis came up with the idea of cooking a hogs head is not something he is quite sure of, but he knew he wanted to do something different. The hogs head is an idea that has stuck for the last 16 years, or eight games.

The cooking process begins usually on Thursday or Friday afternoon, depending on the size of the head or when kickoff is set on Saturdays.

At first, the head was part of the food spread and a centerpiece under Lewis’ tent, but that quickly shifted into Lewis setting head up out in front of the tent for people to walk by and see, or even take a picture with if it they wish.

In 2005, Lewis was not quite sure how the head would be received by the visiting fans, or even Ole Miss fans. That worry was quickly put to rest.

“I didn’t really know how the Arkansas folks would take it,” Lewis said. “I bet you that sucker was photographed thousands of times. That was back in (2005). That was before cell phones and cameras got real popular. Man, everybody was like, ‘Can I take a picture? Can I take a picture?’ … After it went over so well there was no way I could not do it again.”

Since then, the head has taken on a life of its own, growing in reputation over the last 16 years. While tailgating ahead of the Tulane game on Sept. 18, three people walked by Lewis’ tent and asked if he was going to have another hog head.

The Water Valley resident, who graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1963, has tailgated in the same spot on the Lyceum Circle for the past 47 years. Come early Saturday morning, Lewis will be in his regular spot with his hogs head front and center.