Two BBQ Festivals This Weekend

Looking for something porktastic to do this weekend?  Head on down I-85 to Salisbury, one of NC’s most important BBQ towns, for their annual barbecue festival, which is part of the broader Salisbury Cultural Arts Festival.  The barbecue portion of the event is highlighted by a cooking competition, with competitors’ barbecue available for tasting.  As the festival website says, “Local Folks take three things seriously: Religion, Politics and… BBQ!  Just ask them. ”  If you’re lucky and meet the right people, you can experience all three things in Salisbury on Saturday.

If Salisbury and its nearly 27,000 residents is too much for you to handle on a spring afternoon, head east of I-95 to little Murfreesboro for the Roanoke-Chowan Pork Fest.  The 9th annual edition of the event features a barbecue cooking competition and a special appearance by America’s should-be-favorite mascot, the Piggly Wiggly Pig.

BBQ Jew’s View: Whitley’s Bar-B-Que

315 Beechwood Blvd (Hwy 11), Murfreesboro, NC
No Website
Hours: Thu – Sun only
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C-
Porky Says: “Eh.”

Barbecue on a Sunday
As a devout BBQ Jew, I typically steer clear of BBQ joints that are open on Sundays.  They tend to be second rate, though there are some very notable exceptions to this rule (e.g., Lexington #1).  On this particular Sunday, I was driving back from a day of canoeing at Merchant’s Millpond State Park in northeastern NC, a place well worth visiting.  A few hours of paddling in an alligator-filled swamp had me hungrier than a crocodile, and my buddy and I were happy to find that Whitley’s was open on Sundays.


This guy could put away a lot of 'cue.

Sauce Unfit for a Gator
Whitley’s offers an impressive looking Sunday buffet of barbecue, chicken, other main dishes, a wide variety of sides, and dessert.  However, at $14 a person–far and away the most expensive NC BBQ buffet I’ve ever encountered, and in rural Murfreesboro of all places–I hesitated.  Between the price and plans to check out a couple of other BBQ joints on my ride home, as well as my general distaste for eating ‘cue off a steam table, I chose to order from the menu.

Whitleys Murfreesboro (2)

The $14 buffet would've been good for $8.

The barbecue plate I ordered came with corn sticks, an Eastern NC delicacy with which I have relatively little experience given how common hush puppies are.  I was happy to get a chance to eat some corn sticks, though I found Whitley’s to be on the dry and unflavorful side.  Unfortunately, Continue reading

Roanoke-Chowan Pork-Fest

Looking for a reason to visit northeastern North Carolina and chow on some pork this weekend?  Look no further.  This Saturday pay a visit to the small town of Murfreesboro for the annual Roanoke-Chowan Pork-Fest.  What is the Pork-Fest?  And why is it hyphenated?  Alas, this post answers just one of these burning questions.

Jimmy Gray wrote to say, “The [Pork-Fest] cook-off  will be May 16th.  There will be 22 cookers.  The first 5 places will receive a cash prize and the first 2 places for Showmanship.  We have our event at the Brady C. Jefcoat Museum in Murfreesboro, N.C.  There are over 13,000 items in the museum.  We have the largest collection of butter churns, old wooden washing machines and flat irons in the United States.  There are 264 music boxes in 1 room.  We will have music all day, antique and muscle cars.  After the pigs are judged and prizes awarded, we will have a very delicious meal of BBQ with all trimmings.  The ticket price is $10 for the all day event.”

A barbecue cookoff, a chance to tour the world’s largest collection of butter churns, and even an appearance by the Piggly Wiggly Pig (something Mr. Gray failed to mention!).  Sadly, I have somewhere else to be on Saturday and won’t be able to attend this year, but I’d love to hear a report from anyone who finds themselves in Murfreesboro this weekend.  Bonus points if you send along a picture of yourself eating a BBQ sandwich while operating a wooden washing machine.