Katie Munroe and Colin Urquhart grew up in New Brunswick.
Munroe’s family threw a big community party every spring — there’d be a whole roasted pig and pipe bands. Munroe’s dad taught Urquhart the art of pig roasting.
“I was his number one apprentice,” he says. “Then I started dating his daughter.”
Now, the couple owns a house in a back corner of Riverdale. Munroe is expecting a baby, and they’ve thrown a pig roast party every year they’ve lived in the neighbourhood.
Full Boar 2014, as is written on the t-shirts they made, came and went a few Saturdays ago. If you were in the neighbourhood you would have noticed the bouncy castle in the front yard of their house, and the trucks and trailers lined down the street. You would have seen the stacks of bikes along the side of the house, and a table in the backyard groaning under potluck dishes. There were at least ten quinoa salads.
The pig roast is different now than it used to be. When Urquhart and Munroe first started their own version, there was a pig, some neighbours, and friends. There wasn’t a stage with 12 lights, multiple lasers, a moonflower, or smoke machines. There weren’t any sound monitors or amps. They played guitar on the porch. Music has always been a big part of the pig roast.
Urquhart and his good buddy Mike Gallant (who organizes pin-the-tail-on-the pig and pig-aita, for the kids) started up a band for the second annual pig roast. That got Jim Welsh going, who threw together a band for the third annual pig roast.
Now, Welsh is in charge of the music.
“I’m the executive director of sound,” said Welsh, as he ran around the night of the party, as it was growing dark.
Welsh said he learned how to be a sound technician because of the pig roast. The first year they were plugged-in was awful: “It was just pieced together, terrible equipment from everywhere.”
Then he started to volunteer around town for Steve Hare, of Solid Sound Productions. Hare became Welsh’s sound mentor. Now, Hare lends and rents his equipment to the pig roast. This year’s party was the virgin run for a sound monitor that Hare lent them.
Musicians don’t need brand new equipment and a technician to have a good night. But for Welsh, it’s where the magic comes from.
“You felt it, didn’t you?” He says. “When the bands got on stage? The air was electric.”
Welsh wants Thursday night basement musicians to perform at the pig roast. He wants people who jump up and down on stage and high five each other. He wants them to be excited.
For him, the pig roast is “an outlet for bands that don’t get to play out. And it’s rewarding to play with proper gear.”
Welsh figures the set-up at the pig roast is the best sound system in Whitehorse. And he loves that.
For many of the musicians, the pig roast is the reason they form a band and practice every week; It’s for the one show in the spring.
Welsh says his favorite part of it all may be the community that has been built around the event. He says musicians come at nine in the morning to set-up, and they all have found their niches — some are sound people, some set-up the lights, others work with the monitors.
“There’s something bigger going on,” says Welsh.
Marty Meyers and Annie Young live across the street from Urquhart and Munroe. They make breakfast the morning of the pig roast; over the years, the crew has grown wiser — it’s a long day, and beers are cracked shortly after breakfast. Urquhart has the pig, stuffed with a sausage concoction from Lyle Dimm, over coals by the time everyone has eaten ham, bacon, avocado, tomato and egg breakfast sandwiches. Kids are running around, looking for apples to stuff in the pig’s mouth.
2006 was the first year of the pig roast. They knocked on every door on the street, inviting neighbours to come to the party. Not everyone came, but nobody has ever called the cops to shut down the party.
Urquhart says, “If everyone’s invited, it’s pretty hard to shut down something that’s so good. It’s a lot of good.”
Full Boar has always been small enough that they don’t require any permits, and Urquhart says he wants to keep it that way.
It’s small enough not to get shut down, but like Welsh says, it feels bigger. It feels like the police should come and tell everyone to go home. Maybe Welsh is right, maybe it’s the light from the lasers, or the amplified guitars.
When it’s finally dark, strangers start talking to each other. Non-smokers light up cigarettes on the dance floor, which is also Urquhart and Munroe’s backyard. Welsh and his wife, Cath McCarthy, are silhouettes on the smoky stage as their band closes down the party.
It’s probably close to two in the morning.