Americana— The Waco Barbecue Festival

Ah, the Southern Barbecue Festival, and this one was in the back parking lot of the new Baylor Bear football stadium. Of course in Texas beef barbecue (particularly in its brisket form) is king, but in this particular contest ribs were the primary contestants. So the divine swine snuck in through the side door, so to speak. There were five contestants, two from Texas (one from Austin and one from Fort Worth), one from Arkansas, one from Chicago, and one from Nebraska. Apart from the Arkansas folks, all these people are from beef barbecue country. Eastern N.C. barbecue was nowhere to be found, but there was some good pulled pork. Barbecue restaurants are often rustic, to say the least, and sometimes even rusty— the one next to the grain silo in Abilene is both. All five of these contestants had won multiple contests in multiple states. This was not a contest for the beginners or amateurs. Here’s my buddy Todd and I in front of the Lightnin’ BBQ booth from Fort Worth.


BBQ restaurants often have quaint names like Up in Smoke BBQ, or Divine Swine BBQ, or the like. These five actually did not have particularly notable names. But they were all dead serious about their smokin and their sauces. See here the trophy below…

Yep that’s a slab of ribs somehow encased in plastic!! I never knew that the trophies could be edible. It is not unusual that you will see some odd sights at a cook off, for instance here is a walking talking ice cream sandwich…..attracting small children.

We sampled the ribs, and some pulled pork and brisket at all five booths, and then were expected to vote for the best. Now some of them were better at smokin and some of them were better at the sauce, we ate, walked around, listen to country music blasting from the stage and pondered who to vote for…

In the end, Todd and I agreed that the Chicago folks were best at everything, something of a surprise deep in the heart of Texas, but as we were leavin we were told they had won the festival last year as well. The cream rises to the top, or in this case the divine swine ascends to the heavens with an odor that is pleasing unto the Lord 🙂

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