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Cyndi Allison - Grill Girl

Lexington North Carolina Barbecue Festival - 2009
Is Grill Girl Going?

fried apple pies at the Lexington bbq festival width=
Don't Miss the Fried Apple Pies

It’s time again for the annual Lexington, North Carolina Barbecue Festival. It’s always near the end of October so close my birthday. I typically go as part of my birthday celebration. In fact, the 26th annual Barbecue Festival in Lexington is on October 24 for 2009 which puts the main day of festivities right on my birthday.

What is the Lexington Barbecue Festival?

The Barbecue Festival in Lexington, NC is a street type fair like many in small towns across the country, but it is much bigger than most. In fact, the small town of Lexington is literally packed on festival day, since people come from all over.

It is a good idea to arrive early at the festival, since the street gets really crowded as the day goes along. We try to aim to get there around 9:30 a.m. By lunchtime, it’s wall-to-wall people checking out the various food booths and craft vendors.

Parking at the Festival

As far as parking, early arrivals can usually find parking places in town right above or below the festival where the street is blocked off. Various groups like the Boy Scouts rent parking in lots owned by banks, and some residents also have for-fee parking.

Another convenient option is to catch a shuttle bus from an outlying parking lot. We often park at the Wal-Mart parking lot and take the small city buses over to the festival. Fees are modest, and drivers are friendly and helpful.

Food at the Barbecue Festival

Barbecue sandwiches and curly tail fries are the featured foods at the festival. Although several local barbecue restaurants participate on the signature Barbecue Festival sandwich making, it can be hit or miss. When you have various barbecue cooks and different ways of making barbecue sauce, one sandwich may be fabulous and the next . . . not so much.

The most popular barbecue joint in town (Lexington #1) does not take part in the festival. I would assume that is because they do not like to combine their barbecue with others that may not be as good. In any case, the restaurant is open on Barbecue Day, so some festival attendees visit the festival but then drop by and eat barbecue at Lexington #1 – the white building on the hill next to the highway.

My favorite food at the Barbecue Festival would have to be the fried apple pies. The pie ladies (and sometimes a guy or two) make those up from scratch and fry them on site. There’s usually a line, but it’s well worth the wait for the Southern fried apple pies. They taste like my Grandma’s, so that’s saying a lot.

There are various other fair type food vendors ranging from grilled turkey legs to corn-on-the-cob dipped in butter and very drippy but yummy.

A local wine company also offers a Swine Wine that is good with pulled pork. It’s a special run for the festival and hard to get. Expect to see lines at the Swine Wine tent. They are always popular.  

Crafts at the Festival in Lexington

There are more kitsch, mass-produced crafts than I used to see. I guess it’s a lot of work and hard during economic hard times to see labor-intensive, one-of-a-kind craft items. There are still some cute crafts that make nice Christmas gifts.

I usually buy some barbecue sauces made and bottled by locals and also dip mixes for the holidays and homemade bread to take home.

I also make it a point to stop by to see the Tin Can Man. He makes airplanes, cars, and ships out of aluminum cans. They are really cute, and I have a Busch beer can airplane in my office that I got several years ago. It always makes me smile. 

Things to See and Do at the Lexington Festival

In addition to the food and crafts, there are various stages set up for the Barbecue Festival. In addition to local and regional music groups, there’s always a headliner and usually a country music superstar. They also offer shows for the kids that include things like puppet shows.

Other fun activities are coordinated by local groups. For example, the military usually has a pull up bar for people to test their strength. Sometimes they have men making balloon shaped creations, and they usually have face painters.

The children’s area has small rides like the soft slides and also a few games. Sometimes they have characters for the children to visit. One year they had Dora.

Is Grill Girl Going to the Lexington BBQ Festival This Year?

I’ve been undecided about attending the Lexington Barbeque Festival the last couple of years. While it is a fun festival, it’s pretty similar every year but with fewer unique craft booths. Last year, I waited and ate barbecue at Lexington #1, since the sandwich I got the year before was not so great, and they served up cold curly tail fries. Also, it is an exhausting day with the crowds and lugging around things purchased and waiting in line for the porta-potties which I do so hate. If I get a bad one, I come out gagging and then have to get in another line and hope I get a better one.

I haven’t missed a Lexington Barbecue Festival in years, and we do that as my birthday outing. With it hitting right on the day of my birthday, we may go. Then again, me may just smoke some pork at home, since I think my barbecue can’t be beat.     



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