Saturday, October 25, 2008
Pig Sand Sculpture at the 25th Annual Lexington, NC Barbecue Festival
Day Starts Off Wet and Rainy for the Barbecue Festival . . . But Gets Sunny Later
Festival Crowd Decked Out in Rain Coats and Carried Umbrellas
Checking Out the Tin Can Man Again This Year - He Has Added Shuttle Planes
Yes. Fine Wine Goes with Barbecue. Try the Special Swine Wine by Childress Vineyards
We're just back from the 25th annual Lexington, North Carolina Barbecue Festival. It's one of the largest one day festivals in the state and is rated as one of the best festivals in the nation.
Things started off wet and cool this year. It wasn't raining hard when the festival opened, but the rain was coming down steady enough to need raincoats and umbrellas. We wore jackets, but it was warm enough to shed those by noon. The rain had also moved through by then.
Generally we park in one of the lots outside of town and catch the bus in, but we went early enough that we got right downtown and in a lot for $5. It was a bank parking lot, and they let the humane society do the parking with the money to charity. There were several lots with various groups hosting the parking. The Boy Scouts were doing one lot and so on. The smaller lots right close the main street were full by lunch time, so I'd say it's a good idea to plan on one of the big parking lots and a bus ride in. It's only $2 to catch the bus, and they run about every 15 minutes all day.
Since it was raining, it was a little hard to juggle everything. I wore a backpack, and that was a good plan. They usually give out samples of varius products, so it's nice to have a free hand and also a place to stash samples or things you might buy at the craft booths.
The set up at the festival is that the main street is blocked off. In the center of the street are booths. You can go up one side and then back down the other and see everything. Off to the sides are entertainment tents and then other little booths on the sidewalks and up some of the side streets. The festival seems to spread out a little more each year. It's a small town, and it's a big festival. I keep looking for them to shift to a full weekend, but they haven't so far.
The barbecue is served in the center and then at each end - or close the ends anyway. These are not different barbecue types. Several of the local restaurants come together for the festival. So, don't expect to try a variety of barbecues. If you want to do that, then visit at another time and check out all the local barbecue in Lexington.
At the barbecue tents, they have barbcue which is chopped pork in Lexington. It's served with a slightly spicy sauce that has a vinegar base. There's a little tomato in there which sets it apart from barbecue closer to the beach. There's a long running debate about the best barbecue. Lexington, of course, claims to be number one. The eastern crowd will tell that their sauce is better. I like it all.
The barbecue tents also serve hot dogs or that was on the sign. I don't recall ever seeing anyone getting hot dogs at the barbecue tents. But, I guess some people do. I hate to get right up on folks and stare at their food.
For the sides, they have slaw. That's very traditional served with barbecue in the South. Most of the barbecue slaws have a bit of sauce and a little twang. The color is usually reddish versus slaw with a mayonnaise base served on hot dogs in the area.
There are curly tail French fries. They remind me a bit of the ones they had at Burger King for a while. There's some type of coating with seasonings. The fries which are cut in spirals are frozen (I'm sure) and then cooked in large vats of oil at the festival. Those are usually good. We got a cup cooked way too long and sitting too long today. They were rock hard and not soft inside at all. A lady working at the barbecue tent swapped those out for us. My son was really glad, because he really likes the curly tail fries - but not when they're hard.
A lot of people sit on the court house steps to eat the barbecue, but they also have tables set up. It's very informal. So, it's a good idea to wear jeans and t-shirts. You may end up sitting on the ground. That was a bit more difficult this year with it wet outside. We just stood and ate this time.
This is the 25th year for the festival, so they were expecting a really big crowd. I heard that the estimate was 100,000. Things were slower than expected I'm sure during the morning. But, it was picking up.
I enjoyed the day at the Barbecue Festival. It was a little messy with the rain. There weren't as many food booths like previous years. I always look for the homemade breads, dip mixes, honey, hot sauces, and salsas. This year, it was mainly crafts.
I did see the Tin Can Man. I got an airplane from him four or five years ago. It hangs in my office. We always stop by to say hello and to see what new creations he has come up with.
We brought home some fried apple pies to have later and got a couple of loaves of homemade bread - rosemary and sour dough.