04/13/07 — Battle over right to brag still rages in barbecue fight

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Battle over right to brag still rages in barbecue fight

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 13, 2007 1:56 PM

The Lexington Barbecue Festival might have taken one step closer to being named North Carolina's official food festival, but Thursday's state House vote didn't settle one of the longest-standing debates in Raleigh.

Rather, Rep. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, said his decision to vote for the measure -- which was asked for by a Lexington school class -- was made simply out of graciousness.

"We had a lively debate about it, but out of kindness we agreed to let them have it," he said. "Seeing how they have declared that western barbecue is indeed food, we decided to have mercy on our brethren from the west and help them out.

"They're the ones that have to eat that gruel, so we just felt like we should let them live in Never Never Land if they want to."

Other local representatives, however, just couldn't stomach the thought of doing anything that would let purveyors of ketchup-covered pork think they had the superior product.

"I'm from eastern North Carolina, and I'm an eastern barbecue man, so I voted against it," Rep. Van Braxton, D-Lenoir said -- one of 12 representatives to oppose the measure. "What we need to do is have a cook-off one day and then let everybody vote."

But, Pate said, Thursday's decision ultimately doesn't matter -- everybody still knows that the state's best barbecue -- with its vinegar-based sauce -- is in the east.

"We don't have to advertise our barbecue," he said. "The people already know about it. That's why the parking lots at these (barbecue) places are always full."

The bill will now go to the Senate where Sen. John Kerr, D-Wayne, -- in perhaps something of a forward-looking statement when the bill was introduced -- said that while he couldn't vouch for the House, any such proposal would be "dead on arrival in the Senate."