Rotary's festival was slice of paradise

Friday, June 10, 2011

I told on myself and word travels fast in a small town, so before long someone told me, "I hear you've got Joey + Rory concert tickets to sell. "

It was Friday evening in Lewisburg during the Festival on the Rocks, brought to you by the Lewisburg Rotary Club. Rory and Joey Feek were the headliners on stage.

My wife and I went to their Bib and Buckle show at the Feeks' Pottsville-area farm about a year ago. We liked it, so two more tickets were purchased for their June 4 show. That was early, so the announcement that they'd be at the Festival on the Rocks hadn't reached my ears.

They put on a good show that's reminiscent of the man-woman banter on stage between Johnny Cash and the love of his life, June Carter Cash.

So, the joke's on me. If I'd have paid attention sooner, I might not have bought two tickets that I ultimately gave to my neighbors.

Still, Festival on the Rocks was entertaining and heartwarming. Here's what some of the cooks told me that we didn't publish earlier this week.

Mike "Stick" Herring of Fayetteville cooked with the competition barbecue team called General Porktitioner, so-named because Dr. Chris Gafford was on the team. They use a gravity feed smoker. As it burns itself down, more fuel falls into place. The cooker has a forced draft system that blows air on the fire when the heat falls. They use it because "We got too old to stay up" and tend the fire all night, according to Stick. The smoker cost $2,000, but it paid for itself in winnings last year. Stick's large, commercial cooker cost $22,000.

Stick and a teammate cooked barbecue for Alabama tornado victims in Madison County and he says, "We still get thank you notes."

Jim Tolen of Huntsville, Ala., retired as that town's assistant fire chief. He builds cookers that could cost $14,500. His cooker uses 11-13 sticks of wood. Friday it was hickory, but he's used pecan wood.

"I have a grocer who is good to me," Tolen said. "I'll go to the store and I'll go through two to three cases of ribs, pork and brisket before I'll buy."

His cooker has different chambers. At the end, the highest chamber is dubbed the microwave because it will cook food pretty fast.

Rotarians here held their previous barbecue contest in October during the Goats Music and More Festival, but it was moved for various reasons. What does Tolen think about the festival in early June? "It's hot," he said.

Fite Building Co. president Bob Fite of Decatur, Ala., leads Jiggy Piggy, a team with an emblem showing a pig dancing a jig.

"In Huntsville," Fite said, "we got beat by a team called Fat, Drunk and Stupid. What would that sound like the next day in church?"

The team has competed here before. So what's the difference? "It's the same way everywhere."

Folks, it was just another day in paradise.

These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.Ā