Town gutsy enough to hold chitlins fest

November 27, 1990|By Chicago Tribune

SALLEY, S.C. -- The place smelled bad, really bad, swallowed up by an odor so rank it could curdle milk and wilt plants. The visitors came by the thousands anyway, gleeful and hungry and ready to do the Chitlin Strut.

"We spell it chitlin, like it sounds, but it's really c-h-i-t-t-e-r-l-i-n-g," said Mayor Lester Stillinger. "However you spell it, it's still hog guts."

For the last 25 years, the residents of Salley, population 500, have fired up huge chitlin-frying vats on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and served hog guts to all comers. They call the event, along with the dance it spawned, the Chitlin Strut.

"People come to the Chitlin Strut because it's just so . . ." Hemrick Salley, 55, scanned his vocabulary for an apt description. ". . . tacky."

The first Strut was held in 1966, when Salley's mayor was desperate for money to replace the town's tattered Christmas decorations.

This year, 70,000 people wended their way past the pine forests and cotton fields of southwestern South Carolina to visit the Chitlin Strut.

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