NC is so serious about barbecue, it has its own comradeship dedicated to the love of swine: the North Carolina Barbecue Society, Inc. When visiting www.ncbbqsociety.com, one will find info on how to become a member, learn about events, and sign up for judge’s certification classes. Perhaps one of the most interesting bits on the site comes from the map of their barbecue trail. Various pork joints dot the state, starting on the East Coast in Greenville, NC (where vinegar-based sauces run rampant), and meandering through the Piedmont from Burlington to Statesville, before ending in the western part of NC in Murphy (where tomato-based sauces reign).
BBQ lovers who wish to go rogue from the trail can do so this weekend in Burgaw, NC, at Old River Farms. The working farm maxes out at 450 acres and touts North Carolina agritourism. Owned by Dean and Susan Lanier, Old River raises cattle and hogs, primarily. They opened in 2011 and have offered field trips through schools as a hands-on educational experience. Old River signed on to host the first annual Cape Fear BBQ Festival.
Founder of Wilmington’s Cape Fear Wildlife Expo, held every March in downtown Wilmington, WC Lanier (brother to Old River’s Dean Lanier) wanted the festival to cultivate a weekend of family fun. Also, he looked at it as a way to raise money for charities.
“We just want to give back to local charities and improve the quality of life in the community,” Lanier says. “Funds will be donated to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), Cape Fear Wildlife Foundation, [which benefits from the annual expo], and the Methodist Men’s Club.”
The event will center on a barbecue competition. Since announcing the festival last fall, they’ve received applicants all across NC, including Newport, New Bern, Morehead City, and more. The cutoff to apply was May 30th. Judges will rank the pork on appearance, brownness, skin crispiness, moisture, meat and sauce flavors, as well as completeness. “Judges are certified by the North Carolina Pork Council,” Lanier informs. “The three judges are from Newport.”
Attendees will be able to buy BBQ plates and sandwiches for $4 to $7. “We buy the pigs and give them to the cooks who enter the cook-off,” Lanier says. “After they are cooked and judged, the BBQ is then chopped and sold as sandwiches, plates, or by the pound.”
The cookoff won’t focus on one style of BBQ. Seasonings and spices are limited, and sauces are offered on the side. As well, there will be hot dogs, kettle corn, ice cream, cotton candy, candy apples, and other food stuff for sale. The two-day family affair will feature a host of kids activities, such as a petting zoo and bouncy houses.
“There will be camel and pony rides,” Lanier adds. “Pender County members of the NC Wild Turkey Federation will have the BB gun range open, and the NC Bowhunters will have an archery tent for kids.”
Live music will play both days, with beach, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll coming from The Imitations on June 7th, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. On June 8th, from 11 a.m. to noon, a Southern gospel group, Greatly Blessed, will play. Bluegrass will fill the acreage for the rest of the day, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with Nate Gordon. “Bring your own lawn chairs and sunbrellas,” Lanier encourages. “Sit back, relax, and listen to some really great, local musicians.”
The Cape Fear BBQ Festival will showcase a parade of vendors, too, from arts and crafts and beyond. Duplin Winery, Dough Bowls by Van, Grendeddy Dave’s BBQ Sauce, Marine Fisheries, Bluegreen Vacations and others will be on hand to showcase services and wares. “We have all kinds,” Lanier promises, “from Destiny Parson’s face-painting, to Hot Rod’s Hauling, to [folks selling] hair bows, hats, lockets and charms, suncatchers, dresses, sporty crafts, and more!”
It’s only $5 admission, with all proceeds split between the three beneficiaries. Visit www.capefearbbqfestival.com for more information.
Cape Fear BBQ Festival
Old River Farms
8711 Old River Road, Burgaw, NC
Saturday, June 7th, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, June 8th, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
$5 for car, truck or buggy load