03/23/04 — About time: Just salivating for that new festival

View Archive

About time: Just salivating for that new festival

There’s the Daffodil Festival in Fremont. That’s good. And of course Mount Olive’s Pickle Festival. We wouldn’t want to do without that.

We’ve got Pikeville’s Independence Day festivities, and the Garden Spot Festival at LaGrange. Great festivities. And there’s Mule Days at Benson.

Happily, the refined remnants of Goldsboro’s old De-Rail-A-Bration still come around every year, and we have the outdoor summer concerts downtown. The historic little village of Seven Springs has its Ole Timey Days.

You’d think there wouldn’t be anything left to have a festival over.

But there is, right there under our noses. All these years we’ve been overlooking the best excuse for a festival, even though it has been handed to us on a silver platter, or at least in a paper tray or a plastic plate. It’s barbecue.

Ahhh, bar-be-cuuuuuuue. Just the mention of the word conjures up the mouth-watering aroma, the excitement of the not-quite-too-tangy seasoning, the taste of the fresh Wayne County pork roasted slowly, patiently, to delicious perfection, the occasional crunch of a bit of well cooked skin ... (Excuse me. I’ll be right back. Gotta go get some.)

Okay, where were we? Oh yeah. To continue: This grand champion of culinary excellence is distinctively North Carolinian. As it applies to real barbecue, barbecue that is cooked over hardwood coals — and not just thrown into an oven and lathered in some pasty old tomato stuff — it is distinctively Eastern North Carolinian.

Not only is it Eastern North Carolinian, although history is not precise on this, it might well have been invented right here in Wayne County.

The News-Argus does not usually capitalize “Eastern” in eastern North Carolina, but we do in discussions of barbecue cooked over coals. When you write about barbecue cooked over coals, you are overcome by a deep reverence for Eastern North Carolina, and you seek to convey the ultimate respect and love. If there is a place on this side of heaven to be worshipped, it is the place where they cook barbecue over coals. It gets a capital E.

And now, at last, a cognitive corps of citizens has scheduled a week-long effort to do justice to this unique custom. It will be called the “Feast in the East — A Celebration of Eastern North Carolina Barbecue.”

It will be in Wayne County, partly because that is appropriate, and partly because it was Wayne County people who thought up the idea and will do the work. Congratulations to them all! They include representatives from the Goldsboro Travel and Tourism Office, the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, the governments of Goldsboro and the county, the Arts Council, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the Wayne County Fairgrounds. That’s a formidable bunch, and you can bet that this thing is going to be a success.

Some of the details haven’t been decided, but it’s certain that the festivities will include a barbecue pork cook-off, a barbecue turkey cook-off, music, a golf tournament, etc. The main site will be the Wayne County Fairgrounds on U.S. 117 South, and the dates will be Oct. 29th through the 31st.

The weather will be just cool enough to make the fires feel welcome as the cookers burn the hardwood for coals to shovel beneath the pigs on their pits. This will be Eastern North Carolina at its finest and most fun.

Published in Editorials on March 23, 2004 11:47 AM