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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Into the Belly of The Pig

One writer explores the tradition of Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity’s annual Pigstick party.

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Courtesy of Ben Fagell

On May 6, Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity held Pigstick — one of its most anticipated events of the year. First hosted in the spring of 1988, Pigstick is a long-standing tradition for the fraternity. Most notably, the party always boasts a complete roast-pig. 

For me, Pigstick provided a much-needed reprieve from the mid-term slog of exams, projects and papers. With the spring sun seemingly here to stay, the campus carried an almost tangible buzz. Upon arriving at the party, I entered a mass of friends laughing, having food and drinks and dancing along to live music. Students gathered around Alpha Chi — in its sand-covered backyard, on the porch and inside the house. The party also saw performances from several campus bands, including Shark, Bellboy Elroy and Carpool. 

Collis employee Ray Crosby, who requested for his name to appear in the article as “Collis Ray,” said he has roasted the pig at Pigstick for 21 years. When asked if he likes roasting the pig for Pigstick, he said, “I love doing it . . . I only cook for these guys.”

Collis Ray described the preparation of the pig as a significant undertaking.

“The pig is around 150 to 200 pounds, and we get it from Liberal Beef, which has USDA Choice pig,” he said. “I don’t get anything from anyone else but [Liberal Beef, who] has that USDA stamp. That way, we know the meat is all good. I cook it [for] 12 to 14 or 15 hours and bring it here on my pigpick cooker. I bring it out and let the kids eat.”

Each year, members of Alpha Chi write out their fraternity letters “AXA” on the roasted pig’s skin, and some grow out mustaches before the party, according to Alpha Chi member Brody Karton ’23. 

“Growing the mustache, ‘bustache,’ [is a] huge tradition — very important,” Karton said. “A lot of members are encouraged to do their best to grow the mustache.”

However, Karton said he does not see Pigstick as an event laden with tradition, but rather as a day marked by the return of Alpha Chi alumni to campus. 

“For me, it’s a day for ’22s and ’21s who have graduated — people who have influenced my journey at Dartmouth — [returning for] a fun day,” he said. 

Alpha Chi member Jack Ranani ’25 said he appreciates seeing friends who have graduated at the party.

“My favorite part of Pigstick is having all the alums back at Alpha Chi to see what the house has become since they left,” he said. “It’s also great to welcome campus into the house to enjoy good food, the concert and the beautiful weather.”

In the days leading up to Pigstick, members of Alpha Chi prepare for the event to ensure it is both safe and enjoyable, according to Karton. 

“First and foremost, we want the event to be safe … a lot of people have duties: People looking out, people on risk [to make] sure that everyone is having fun safely at the party,” Karton said. “A lot of the preparation is everyone knowing their role, and everyone knowing who’s in charge and who’s keeping an eye out at all times.” 

Ranani also reflected on how the fraternity’s hard work and preparation yielded a fun and successful Pigstick this year.

“Lots of effort goes into planning it because we really want to ensure that guests can have a great time and enjoy the food and music.”