By Julia Colborn
The tents and trucks set up next to the baseball fields seemed as still as the gray morning. But amid the 9 a.m. calm, nerves were on edge.
Fifteen contestants, who had started cooking almost 12 hours earlier, were putting the finishing touches on their meats as the judges began their assessments, checking for temperature, legality, presentation and taste. One by one, each team in the half-circle endured examination, finally visibly relaxing for a moment on a job well done. All they had to do was await the announcement of the awards amid the festivities of Rolesville’s annual Hot Pickin’ Finger Lickin BBQ and Bands Festival.
Across the circle, a wide range of vendors were setting up their tents, and the stage was sound-checked. Near the serving tent and beer cart was a local hosiery business, flanked by an Avon representative and an accessory stand that also sold original photographs. In the middle was a stand with natural dietary products, and next to that a Tastefully Simple booth run by a person who has been a representative for 12 years. Between them and the tent sporting RHS Rams baseball was a man selling vinyl wall hooks – a business he had been in for only a few weeks.
Around 11 a.m., the crowds started pouring in. All stands were attractively arranged to assist the flow of traffic, making sure to leave a wide enough space for viewing and dancing in front of the stage. James and Barbara Lassiter knew what kind of view they wanted, as noticed by Mark Roberts, spokesman for Capital Ford and annual host.
“Now that is an example of VIP seating right there,” he said, gesturing to the Lassiters during his welcoming speech around noon. More than an hour before that, they had comfortably positioned themselves close enough to the middle of this empty space to have a great view, but not so close as to be obtrusive, and they remained there until after all the awards were presented.
All patrons and participants seemed to take pleasure in the day. William Guyton, who has been a performer for all six festivals, had recently joined the band Southern Grace, all of whom partook in the festivities as well. “If we don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to enjoy it,” Guyton said while delighting in a plate of barbecue between sets.
Awards were announced at 2 p.m., the afternoon breeze still carrying the smell of barbecue. The winners received cash and trophies, and the first and second places of the whole hog contest were eligible for the state competition. Bruce Daniels won second place in all three categories. First-place prizes went to Don Wells for chicken and Brandon Neville for ribs. Larry Hicks won for the whole hog, making the crowd chuckle with his remark: “Sixth time’s the charm!”
Team D&G won third place in chicken and ribs but did not participate in whole hog, for which Joey Wood took third place.
What Team D&G’s Dexter Gupton and George DeMartz, two coworkers who normally just cook for their employees, did not expect was to win the People’s Choice award. They came prepared with two sauces: one, a spicy cream sauce they had used in a competition in 2013, and the other a more vinegar- and ketchup-based sauce with a fruity spin (secret ingredient not to be divulged, of course) that they had been working on perfecting for about a year. This was the sauce they were proud of, and this was the sauce that won them the crowd.
“The People’s Choice,” they agreed, “means more to D&G than any other category. We were glad to do this, raise money for the benefit, and we will be back next year!”
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Click on photos to see larger images. Photos by Julia Colborn, Kathy Fuerst, and Jeanne E. Fredriksen
Left, middle, and right: On Friday night, the competing teams met and then began cooking all night in preparation for judging on Saturday morning.
Left: The calm before the storm of bouncing children.
Middle: The Swine and Dine Café sign, festival logo and all.
Right: Volunteers setting up the serving tent before guests arrive.
Left: Earl Perry’s Hand Me Down BBQ Sauce was available on each table.
Middle: The serving lines opened, and people made their way over to buy plates of food.
Right: Festival goers filled the Swine and Dine Café as they gathered with friends over barbecue.
Left: Mayor Eagles and Police Chief Langston enjoyed the day as much as everyone else.
Middle: Kids’ t-shirts went for only $3 and featured the popular BBQ & Bands Pig logo.
Right: Mayoral candidate George Drewett chatted with festival goers at his booth and as he made the rounds. Here he chats with Karen Pettyjohn at the Chamber booth.