86.) Ohio Smoked Meat and BBQ Festival – Nelsonville – October 16, 2010




The Ohio Smoked Meat & BBQ Festival is one of nearly 300 competitions sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, a nonprofit organization for the promotion and enjoyment of bbq. With 43 teams and $10k in prize money, it sounded like a decent event.

But the main reason I wanted to go was the 2.5 hour sampling period, where festival goers, including myself, could get themselves sick on some brisket and bbq pork sampling.

Unfortunately, I was leaving the previous festival 30 minutes later than I had hoped.

It was not looking good.

I had my fingers crossed as I pulled into Nelsonville, even though it was already 1:50. And although I easily found a parking place down the road from the festival, I kept those fingers crossed…

…and made my way in.

The main festival area was in a square…

…across from the giant Rocky Outdoor Gear Store

…where they had a stage set up…

…some souvenirs…

…ice cream…

…and beer.

For a moment, my stomach even gurgled in joy…

…as I mistook this vendor for a competitor with samples.

That long line should have told me something…

…because as I walked by all the competitor tents and trailers…

…I noticed how quiet and clean they were.

The square in the back was filled with other competitors, but they were packing up.

Some festival goers talked with competitors, but they were no longer being offered free meat.

That single BBQ vendor, with the ice cream and beer, were my only sources of festival nourishment. It was more competition than a festival, I realized, even if there was a band setting up.
And, only now, as I write this, do I find a memo on the festival blog, explaining a $5 fee for the public to taste samplings and vote. Whether this occurred in a tent, or if they were given wristbands, I have no idea. All I know is I now doubt those 30 minutes back in Jackson would have made a difference.

I should have arrived by 11:30 or earlier and, next year, so should you!

But it wasn’t a complete loss. As I wandered aimlessly, searching for just the tiniest scrap of free pork…

…I came across an experience-saving competitor from the Dayton area…

…who had just enough meat left that I was able to get seconds!

To Mr. Jimmy’s Obsession…God bless you.

You made me want to come back.