Salisbury BBQ Festival set for May 14

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Although Lexington has staked a bigger claim to barbeque over the years, with a huge festival to back it up, some argue that Carolina-style barbeque came to Salisbury before it came to Lexington.
In the book “North Carolina Barbeque,” author Bob Garner notes that John Blackwelder of Rowan County added a barbeque pit to his taxi stand in 1918, “one year before Sid Weaver put up his barbeque tent near the Lexington courthouse.”
Supposedly, word of Blackwelder’s product is said to have spread quickly from railway workers.
Almost 100 years later, barbeque still looms large in our county’s consciousness. On Saturday May 14, the smells of hickory-smoked pork will waft through the town of Spencer as the third annual Salisbury BBQ Festival takes over the plaza.
There will be a competition cook-off with pork barbeque available all day. Contestants — who must be from Rowan County — provide their own meat, secret recipes and sauces.
Sampler cups will be available from each contestant, and festival-goers will determine a people’s choice award. There is also a professional blind judging, with a panel of five judges who will decide who has made the best barbeque.
Lunch sampling, tasting and judging goes on from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Awards will be announced at 6 p.m.
The all-day event will feature an all-you-can eat BBQ Feast from 5-6:30 p.m., which will follow a wine tasting from 4-5:30 p.m. featuring wine by all three Rowan County wineries.
There will be an ice cream social from 2-4 p.m.
Reservations are recommended, and seating is limited, so visit to register.
Festival food will include BBQ chicken, beef brisket, ribs, turkey, lamb and Cheerwine “Red Bird” Chicken on a can. There will also be BBQ lasagna or BBQ meatloaf.
In addition to traditional sides of BBQ slaw and beans, the buffet table will include new sides created for the 2011 Feast. Red beans with pork bark, Smoky Mountain potato salad, Texas Pete cornbread and muscadine sweet potatoes are just a few of the special dishes created by food consultant Jana M. Erwin of Washington, D.C. Check out her blog at
Desserts are bananas foster pudding and cheese cake brownies. These are in addition to last year’s signature BBQ cookies and Cheerwine truffles.
There will also be artists displaying their work, authors signing their books and musicians entertaining.
Festival-goers are advised to bring lawn chairs, but no coolers and no alcohol, please.
Proceeds from the festival will go to literacy projects in Rowan County.
The BBQ Festival will take place in the former Park Plaza shopping center.
The Salisbury Rowan Cultural Arts Foundation sponsors this festival to promote awareness of our local BBQ heritage and to enhance cultural historic tourism. For more information, go to