Postgame video highlights, so to speak, from the 29 annual Barbecue Festival in Lexington. Visit the Lexington Dispatch for the video, and links to other Festival videos. Lots of (in?)action shots of people eating barbecue sandwiches…
I finally made it to Speedy Lohr’s a couple of weeks back and it was well worth the visit. Speedy Lohr’s is located a bit outside of Lexington in the (what I shall call) hamlet of Arcadia, and they cook their barbecue over wood as God intended. As you can see in the photo below, Speedy Lohr’s adds a bit more
sauce dip than I prefer but quibbles aside it was good ‘cue.
According to the The Dispatch, a recent article in U.S. News & World Report ranked Lexington, NC the fourth best barbecue city in the country. It’s hard to argue with the cities listed ahead of Lexington–Memphis TN, Lockhart TX and Kansas City MO. Although if good, traditionally prepared barbecue per capita had been the main criteria I’d argue that Lexington–with its 20-some BBQ joints in the “metro area” and just 20,000 people–would be neck and neck with Lockhart.
Here are my picks for top barbecue cities (and towns) in North Carolina. If you like, you can consider this the North Carolina barbecue Final Four.
Lexington – As noted in the national rankings, Lexington is the best barbecue town in North Carolina. There are more traditional wood-cooking barbecue joints in little 20,000-person Lexington than any other locality in NC by a wide margin. (Are you listening Raleigh and Charlotte?) Lexington’s annual Barbecue Festival that draws 200,000 or so swine worshippers is further evidence of the town’s barbecue supremacy.
Ayden – Home to the Skylight Inn (aka Pete Jone’s place), which serves some of the best barbecue in the state and is perhaps the quintessential Eastern NC barbecue joint, Ayden is a little town with a lot of flabor. From the food at the Skylight Inn to the rural setting, it doesn’t get much more authentic than Ayden . Better yet, tiny Ayden is also home to the cafeteria-style Bum’s, which is a classic southern restaurant featuring barbecue.
Salisbury – It plays second fiddle to Lexington, but Salisbury deserves its own acclaim, as it is (ironically) the likely birthplace of “Lexington-style” barbecue. Today Salisburyians (?) continue to cherish their barbecue and the town has a couple of solid, traditional wood burners–Richard’s and Wink’s–to back up their proud barbecue history.
Goldsboro – At one point Goldsboro was arguably the Mecca of Eastern NC barbecue, between the still-famous Wilber’s and the now shell-of-its-former-self Scott’s. Although it’s barbecue is no longer worth tasting, Scott’s still makes some of the best barbecue sauce available ($1.99 or so at your neighborhood Food Lion, or $1 more at Harris Teeter if that’s how you roll). The Goldsboro area’s proud tobacco and hog farming history add to its permanent status as a true barbecue town.
I’m a month behind on this news but since it is good news I’ll share it now. According to the Lexington Dispatch, Backcountry Barbeque reopened in mid-September after an August 28th fire. As of September 14th the restaurant was still serving a limited menu as it awaited some final inspections, but they should be back to full capacity by now.
I’ve not yet made it to Backcountry Barbeque but hope to someday soon. The restaurant is owned by Doug Cook, who previously founded the excellent Cook’s Barbecue south of town; Doug’s son Brandon Cook is the pitmaster there and learned to cook from his old man. Notably, Doug spent some time in Texas, where he learned to cook brisket, an art his son also mastered along with traditional Lexington-style pork shoulder ‘cue.
Saturday, October 22nd is the date of The Barbecue Festival in Lexington, which is far and away North Carolina’s largest barbecue-related event. Assuming the weather is nice, well over 100,000 people will descend on little Uptown Lexington for the day, making it perhaps the worst day of the year to visit unless you love crowds. While October 22nd is the big day, there are Festival-related events aleady underway:
-This past Saturday was the 20th annual Tour de Pig bicycle race, which was held the same day as Ridin’ Hawg Wild, an event for folks who prefer their bikes motorized.
-Archdale resident Tabatha Allred won the 2011 Childress Idol competition on October 2nd and will sing at the Festival.
-This coming Saturday the 15th will feature the Hawg Shoot high school air rifle competition (for those who don’t mind guns at school), the Hawg Run 5K, and the Barbecue Festival Golf Tournament.
-On the weekend of the Festival, competitive folks can participate in the 1st annual Barbecue Festival Cornhole “Throw Down” or the Barbecue Festival Softball Tournament. Personally, I think horseshoes would be a more appropriate pairing with barbecue but to each his own.
-Oh, and the Pepsi “Pig Tales” Creative Writing Contest is still accepting entries for all age categories through October 14th so if you have a burning desire to write fiction that includes mentions of barbecue and Pepsi then this is your chance to make your work pay off… category winners take home 20 cases of Pepsi products.
Finally, don’t forget to book at ticket on Amtrak for its once-a-year stop in Lexington. My family took the train to the event last year and were surround by fellow barbecue lovers, some from as far away as Long Island, NY.