|Barbecue is magical to me.|
I've not talked to you all about what barbecue means to me. Barbecue is something more than just a past time, hobby or career for me. I choose barbecue when I was still young and dumb, not sure where I wanted to go in my life. I experimented with rubs and smokers and open pits, different woods and different methods. In Baltimore, back then, dry rubbing was not as familiar as it is now. After the little barbecue shack my brother and I had made the papers, and Pit Beef was deemed Baltimore's BBQ, the rest for me was history.
However, for me a life in barbecue takes a lot of work. I took the hard road. Barbecue in my world means an old stick pit, feeding the fire with hardwood, turning my beef , pork, turkey legs, chicken or ribs tirelessly for hours. I don't have a fancy smoker, and no electronic devices to keep my pit going. It's 100% my manpower and I'm an old dog now, gonna be the big FIVE-O this year. After a long day at the fair feeding the masses, I can barely walk, my hands are swollen and I'm a burnt up mess. All in a day's work for me.
|Look how purdy. Wouldn't change a thing.|
I've also learned you can make some of the best friends in Barbecue. Some of my pals are my fellow food vendors--we can sit right next to each other at a fair, sell the same items against each other, and still talk at the end of the day. They eat my beef and I eat their ribs. That's how it is in Barbecue. You can eat twenty different kinds and they all taste different and all taste good.
I eat at other barbecue guys' restaurants when I'm not selling my own and I buy their spice and barbecue sauces to use at home on my own food. The Barbecue competitors wow me, and I've met some great people along the way. Eric, the Hess brothers, and Myron Mixon gave me some tips on competing but I'm too darn busy selling each weekend to try. Retirement for me will mean competing although I never see that day coming. I'll probably die with tongs in my hand, at least that's how I envision going to barbecue heaven. You see, barbecue is in my blood.
Two years ago, something I don't like to think about, was when my wife's mother beat cancer. At least that's what the doctors said. I saw her fight for her life with the chemo and I had to go back to Maryland while my wife, her brother and stepfather drove back to Maine for her routine operation to remove a small intrusive tumor in her rectum.
It was that day at the hospital the doctor said he removed her tumor successfully, and surrounding lymph nodes just to be safe, and they tested negative for cancer. My wife, her brother and stepfather were celebrating her success that day, while my mother in law recuperated in the hospital. They left her about 7pm, to get some rest. I was so happy she was okay.
They would never see her again. A call from the hospital at 1am would put everyone in shock. Calls from my wife in Maine to Baltimore to wake up our whole family, she was gone. Just hours after they celebrated her life--she was dead.
Even an autopsy would not explain just why. She didn't appear to have a blood clot or heart attack. Was her system depleted from worrying for months about it? Did the chemo drain her? Was it just her time? Only God knows I suppose. We will never figure it out.
What's worse than that? After 33 years of marriage, my wife's stepfather would die only months later. He took off his wedding band and wrote a note. Suicide, you may say so, but a broken heart, for sure.
The family was immobilized by all of this. There were no funerals or viewings. Everyone was in shock. That's when my wife said, "Mom always said if she died to throw a big party and celebrate her life. Why not try to raise money for cancer awareness?"
If you ask my wife about Cancer she is very jaded. Perhaps because it's taken her whole family from her. Her mom (colorectal), her grandfather (lung), her grandmother (colorectal and pancreatic) and of course had a direct result on killing her stepfather. She complains that Cancer is all about the research and chemotherapy when in fact it should be about truly finding a cure. Is it impossible because there are so many toxins on our food, in our water, and in the very air we breathe? Or is it possible and just simply a money maker and form of population control?
So, when something bad hits you it's time to move in a different direction. The Hogging Up BBQ & Music Festival started out of an idea that we can make a difference. I can use my voice in BBQ to do something GOOD. The first festival is in Winchester, Virginia. This location is because it's one of my very first fairs (ever.)
First and foremost one benefactor will be CancerCare.org, who wish to thank for helping my mother-in-law when she was so stressed about her bills. They gave her options, ways out, free counseling and loopholes to get some of her excessive copays and coinsurance paid. They aren't into the drug end of it, or the treatment end of it, but all about the patient and their families. That's why we are doing it.
Let's not forget how we will be helping three area non profits :
- Beer & Wine 100% profits the Winchester Exchange Group
- Some of Gate: Clear Brook Volunteer Fire Department
- Some of Gate: Local Church
What Does BBQ Mean to You?
Shoot me an email and tell me for a feature.