Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lexington Barbecue Fest

There are many things about the South that this Yankee has fallen in love with - not the least of which would be my good ol' country boy - but second on that list would have to be Carolina's famous cuisine: barbecue.

When I first moved to Winston-Salem, one of my roommates asked me if I wanted to go with her to a friend's house to "have some barbecue"for dinner. I expected we'd be going to someone's backyard, where a grill would be fired up with hot dogs and hamburgers. Imagine my surprise when we arrived and there was a big silver, disposable chafing dish of mushy looking meat, some weird colored slaw and bags of sandwich buns. I learned looks can be deceiving, and it wasn't long before I too fell in love with the southern version of barbecue, even serving it at my wedding!

So needless to say, when our friends Donna and Matt asked us if we wanted to join them to go to the Lexington Barbecue Festival, we jumped right in the car. Matt and Donna just moved here from Illinois for residency, and had yet to experience any NC barbecue. According to the website, the Lexington Barbecue Festival brings 100,000 people into the small town of Lexington AND from a quote on their site, is one of the "top ten food festivals in the USA." WELL. We couldn't miss that could we?

The Pig Reigns

I have to say, I expected a little more from all the hype. Don't get me wrong - the barbecue was delicious (as it always is), but the festival was just your typical blocked off street fair: vendors selling everything from local honey to purses made from John Deere fabric (who keeps these vendors believing there is a demand for such product?) to handmade bird cages. And of course, there was the usual plethora of fair food - giant turkey legs, gyros, bacon wrapped scallops and fried candy bars. (Welcome to the South, ya'll!)

One Happy Customer

Turkey Legs, Of Course.

Lexington is one of those small Southern town that still has a Main St with mom-and-pop owned businesses tucked in besides CVS and Arby's and other chains. Donna and I tucked into an candy store along Main St and poked around in the bins that were full of old timey favorites - Mary Janes, butterscotches, bit-o-honeys, and those little foil-wrapped strawberries with the gummy insides. They had an awesome collection of antique children's toys and books in the back that I perused/snapped pictures of while D scooped out her loot.

Choosing Carefully

Despite angry skies early in the morning, it ended up being a postcard perfect afternoon to wander the streets, people-watching and sampling the wares at the different vendors (beware the habanero sauce at the Sticky Fingers booth, yall....). I'm still not entirely sure how this festival, compared to all other festivals in the country, made it on the top ten food list... but I'm thinking it has to be the John Deere fabric purses.

It was a gorgeous afternoon to be out and about, and most importantly to share a big part of what we love about North Carolina with our friends. Although apparently, we're going to have to go get Matt a slaw-free sandwich next time. Hmm. I guess that's okay.

You never forget your first time!

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