Fair Fare

By Paige Ransbury

I’ve been going to fairs for years. My parents would take me to the Del Mar Fair when I was younger, and around the time the name changed to the San Diego County Fair, I started going with my friends instead of my family. What mattered the most then was who I was with; I wasn’t exactly oblivious to my surroundings, but to my 13 year old self, they only served to provide entertainment for me and my friends. It wasn’t until last year when I visited the North Carolina State Fair as a sophomore in college that I really began to look at fair culture. It helped that I brought my camera along to document the event; your eye narrows in on things you wouldn’t normally notice when it’s behind a camera lens.


Trying to imagine what it would be like for a first-time fair-goer is entirely overwhelming. I’ve been to a fair nearly every year since I was in middle school, and entering the fair grounds still feels like being hit with a train – the bright, flashing lights, the spinning, swinging, twirling rides, the sheer amount of people pinballing their way through the crowd, the sounds coming from a variety of sources all overlapping and building to a rich, symphonic cacophony, and, of course, the smells. There aren’t many other places where your nose can be tantalized by the rich aromas of fair food seconds before being hit with the stench of cow manure.


Food, animals, and rides that make you check if you still have all of your body parts afterward doesn’t seem like a winning combination when you really think about it. The greasiness, the dirtiness, the stomach-churningness….somehow it works. People flock to fairs every year; both the San Diego County Fair and the NC State Fair had around a million visitors each last year.


Although I had only ever been to the SDCF, I assumed that all fairs had the same elements – rickety rides, overpriced games, funhouses, musical entertainment, packs of tweens, and women who think wearing heels to the fair is a good idea. There’s also a certain griminess that settles into your hair and clothes, and a playfulness that perhaps finds its root at its temporary nature. Fairs know they don’t live long, and thus they are free to create the chaos that comes to define them. The NC State Fair was no different.


What I was most interested in, though, was the characteristic food of fairs. I can find crowds of people at the mall, rides at any amusement park, and animals at a petting zoo, but the food is, for the most part, unique to fairs. Besides, I had never before taken advantage of the availability of such unique creations. My friends and I walked in and immediately were met by a wave of smells and sounds. On our right hand side was a man making and selling homemade old-fashioned ice cream. Tempting, but we were at a fair and that required a certain amount of what I’ll call reverse fussiness. Anything that under normal circumstances was socially acceptable to eat was now a no-go; anything that caused us to question how many years our lives would be shortened by ingesting it was a resounding yes. This is because entering the fairgrounds is like entering a kingdom where right is wrong and wrong is right. At the fair, it’s acceptable – nay, encouraged! – to slap a slab of meat between two maple flavored donuts and sell it for less than it costs to trim your hair. How many people have been dared to eat deep fried butter at the fair? And how many people have taken that dare up because they’re at the fair?


For those who with allergies to anything fried (or fun), there are of course “normal” foods available. We found pizza, steak sandwiches, fries, and smoothies there. We even passed by a Chick-fil-A stand at one point. But the longest lines at any food stand at the fair are without a doubt going to be at the stands offering gimmicky, unusual, slightly gross, slightly wondrous, morsels of food that are most likely fried.


Which is just the kind of stand I eventually found myself at the end of the night. Really, there was no other way to wind down my experience than waiting thirty minutes in line for fried something. And there were a lot of fried somethings – pickles, hamburgers (entire hamburgers!), pecan pies, Oreos, Kool-Aid balls, Ho-Hos…even deep fried mac and cheese. Faced with all of these options, my friends and I chose to buy one thing and share – a “take one down, pass it around” method that proved disastrously effective. Every one got the chance to try the pickles, pecan pie, Kool-Aid, Oreos, and, my personal favorite, the deep-fried Klondike Bar.


The pickles were advertised as being spicy, and, having a rather low spice tolerance, I took one nibble before passing them on. This was a smart move on my part; while not immediately hot, they had the kind of slow burn that you don’t realize until you’ve eaten ten and the spice factor becomes magnified by the amount you’ve eaten. The fried Kool-Aid was actually fried dough balls infused with the popular kids drink, and they reminded me of cherry cough syrup: sweet to the point of being saccharine, and mostly unpleasant.


The Oreos were literally and figuratively golden. The fried casing added a crispiness to the softer insides, which were deliciously warm and practically melted in my mouth. Frying the Oreos heightened their flavor; somehow they tasted more like Oreos now than ever before. The pecan pie was even better: served on a stick, it didn’t look very appealing but it tasted incredible. With a powdered sugar dusting and a warmth that spread through my body, this pie had me coming back for second and third and fourth bites.


This brought me to the Klondike Bar. This masterpiece had me puzzled – how did the ice cream not melt? – but I didn’t ponder the question for long. Perhaps it is my bias towards food that includes chocolate, but this was my favorite. The simple flavors of the Klondike Bar were elevated once fried; it was a warm, sticky, partially melted mess that swirled together in its tray to create perfection. I didn’t let this creation out of my sight for long.

It was the first time I had allowed myself such an indulgence at a fair. Part of me wishes I had never opened this particular Pandora’s Box, but the stomachaches that inevitably accompany such feasting are worth every grease-covered, flavor-infused, chocolate-dripping, powdered sugar-dusted bite.






The Culture of Saxapahaw, North Carolina


By Mia Brady


It has been featured in local publications like Chapel Hill Magazine, Triad Business Journal, Our State Magazine, News and Observer, The Burlington Times, and WUNC TV; in national publications like the Orlando Sentinel, The LA Times, the Washington Post, Gourmet Magazine, Bon Appetite and The New York Times. With recognition like this, there is no question that the former quiet little mill town of Saxapahaw, North Carolina is a distinguishable place. Located about half way between Graham and Chapel Hill, this town is unquestionably off the beaten path. Driving through miles of farmland, one would never expect to stumble into this quaint, yet established, town with such a strong, identifiable culture.


The town of Saxapahaw, nestled along the Haw River, was founded back in 1840 as a cotton mill town. It had a quiet, authentic mill-town, farm feel for over nearly 150 years, until1994, when the Saxapahaw Rivermill was forced to close due to economic reasons. This little town focused around cotton soon was faced with the task of rebuilding itself; a task that was tackled with exceptional drive. Mac Jordan, the grandson of former mill owner John Jordan, bought the mill and focused on renovation. Today, just 18 years after the closure of the mill, Saxapahaw has established itself as a town worthy of Gourmet’s and New York Times’ attention. This little mill town has expanded into a town with a welcoming culture and a passion for local food.


In addition to Jordan’s dedicated efforts, Jeff Barney and Cameron Ratliff have transformed various spots in Saxapahaw into facilities to help rebuild the town, and revamp the feel. One of such is The Eddy Pub, a pub and restaurant housed in a former mill that pays tribute to the original mill village of Saxapahaw. Saxapahaw General Store was bought by Barney and Ratliff in 2008, and for the past four years, these two have focused their efforts on ensuring that the Saxapahaw community can enjoy local food.


When visiting Saxapahaw, Phoebe and I were amazed by the uniqueness of the atmosphere. We entered the store and noticed right away that it doubled in nature, as both a convenient store with every day products, and a local food emporium. To our right we were faced with shelves of both everyday and locally grown products, but to our left, a vast chalkboard filled with what seemed to be hundreds of meal choices awaited us. To say that it took us about 20 minutes to finally make a decision on our meals is not an exaggeration. With options like the Applewood Bacon Blue Cheese Burger, which looked just as good as it sounds as a waiter walked by with the burger on a tray, the Saxy White Pizza, with artichokes, prosciutto and roasted tomatoes, or of course, the Avocadomater, for the veggie lover, filled with avocado, sprouts, cream cheese, cucumber and provolone. After much deliberation, I decided on the Roasted Vegetable Sandwich, with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers and onions on deliciously toasted multigrain bread. Phoebe went for The Schmancy Pizza, which featured fresh tomato, two types of fresh mozzarella, creamy pesto sauce, red onion, and bacon.


As we waited anxiously for our delicious sounding meals outside on the patio, we had the wonderful opportunity to chat with owner Jeff Barney, who was kind enough to take a few minutes from his hectic day to speak to us about the culture of Saxapahaw. Barney attributed the success and popularity of Saxapahaw to its ability to reach such a wide audience. Saxapahaw offers something for everyone, with its laid back nature, delicious, local food, and of course, unparalleled sense of community.


There is no question that Saxapahaw is an incredibly unique place; a place that draws people of all ages and all backgrounds. Elon students are not exempt from those drawn to Saxapahaw. Will Stiefel, a senior at Elon raved about the Saxapahaw General Store, noting that he and his roommates deemed Thursday afternoons, “Saxapahaw Thursdays” and make the 25-minute trek willingly and eagerly, saying that the “quality and atmosphere are definitely worth the drive”. Will said:


I fell in love with Saxapahaw General Store on my very first visit. Their support of the local community and farms is evident the moment you walk in. Fresh, local ingredients, along with great preparation, make the food the best I’ve had since coming to school in NC. Not to mention, the employees are all charming and seem to remember everyone who stops in.


While Will has developed a love for Saxapahaw that brings him back there each week, Elon graduate Katie Kenney, who first discovered Saxapahaw through the help of Elon professor, Dr. Janet MacFall, as a junior, was so impressed by the small town that she found herself living there a year later, post graduation. The summer after her junior year, Katie lived in Elon, and spent time traveling to the small town for Saxapahaw Saturdays, as the town houses a farmers market and live music every Saturday during the summer. When offered a job to teach English in South Korea starting in the spring of 2013, Katie decided to live and work in the town that she grew to love, and feel a part of. Since the summer of 2012, Katie has been living in Saxapahaw and working at both The Eddy Pub and Saxapahaw General Store. Katie is inspired by the culture that Saxapahaw promotes, and never tires of seeing visitors become inspired by Saxapahaw, as well.


When asked about the food culture of Saxapahaw, Katie noted that it is the commitment to local food that draws people’s attention to this community, and connects them in a deep way. Saxapahaw is a community that supports each other so strongly, and through this support, has fostered and grown as a unique place that draws many different people in. As Katie so accurately states,


Food in Saxapahaw goes hand in hand with respect for the community. The community is supported economically through sourcing local produce, meat, and goods (think wine, candles, t-shirts, and handicrafts) while bringing people together. Saxapahaw is very small, and it’s the General Store and Eddy Pub that bring people together. Both are full of regulars, people who support our mission wholeheartedly. People gather here for music, for trivia nights, and for celebrations. Food and community are synonymous here, and it definitely makes Saxapahaw a special place.


There is no question that Saxapahaw is a special place; a place with a dedication to community and local food, which will continue to strive and grow in its uniqueness.




By Olivia James

At first sight, Mayberry’s looks like a typical soup and sandwich shop in downtown Brevard.  However, it was the only place open for breakfast, and was recommended to us by people working at the local newspaper.  It was clearly new, but had a rustic feel.  As we sat at the bar, we noticed baked goods lining the counter and self-serve drinks against the back wall.  The seating hostess doubled as our waitress and was very friendly, and willing to talk with us about our project and the town.  It was clearly a local place- as soon as one couple walked in, the waitress put two tables together.  At first it seemed odd, but after a few minutes the chairs around the couple filled up and we realized that they had a breakfast group that came in every Saturday morning.

We did not have to wait long for our food, although the restaurant was not crowded at that early hour.  The menu was primarily southern cuisine, which was expected by the advertising of the barbeque sandwiches outside of the restaurant.  When our plates arrived, the portions were larger than expected.  I had the French toast, which was cut thick and very sweet, with a side of grits.  The grits were plain and did not have flavor, but were not lumpy as grits can tend to be.  One of my classmates ordered fried eggs, grits, bacon and toast.  The eggs were done well- fried crispy with a runny yoke- and the portion size was more than enough.  Another classmate ordered home fries, which she enjoyed, but was less than enthusiastic about the vegetable omelet. My other classmate had a waffle that she liked, but did not standout to her at all.

Overall, the price was low, especially for the portion size.  While it was not an out-of-this-world breakfast, it was hearty, southern food and filled us up for the long day ahead.

North Carolina Barbecue Project

As part of our experience practicing writing as inquiry, we have learned about the importance of ethnographic research and of thick, detailed description of places and experiences. For this North Carolina Barbecue Project, students went on two field trips: one to the Lexington Barbecue Festival in Lexington, NC on October 27, 2012 and one to Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro, NC on November 15.  While visiting both the Lexington BBQ Festival and Stamey’s, some students distributed surveys, others interviewed people, and a few conducted ethnographic research.


Below, you will find an ethnographic account of one student’s experience at the Lexington BBQ Festival, and another student’s account at Stamey’s Barbecue in essay format. You will also find analyses of several surveys distributed at the festival, in the restaurant, and online. The last thing included in this section is an interview with a Lexington BBQ Festival attendee.





1) Challenging Cultural Expectations at the Lexington Barbecue Festival          

By Mia Brady


When driving through the tiny town of Lexington, personal driveways turned parking lots were found on every corner, with residents directing traffic. It was clear to me that Lexington was experiencing a day during which their little North Carolina town was filled with more people than usual. After paying $5 for parking and walking up a hilly, narrow road, we found ourselves in the middle of the Lexington Barbecue Festival. I couldn’t help but feel I was in the midst of a bustling flee market. Rows and rows of little tents were set up, selling everything from BBQ sauce (appropriately) to little knickknacks, like wood picture frames and cloth purses. I found myself confused initially; so where was the barbecue? I wanted more than just sauce! From my first few moments there, I knew that this festival would be different than I expected.


Before coming to the festival, I expected the focus to be on North Carolina BBQ, with lots of different recipes of authentic barbecue available. But as we wandered around, taking in the energetic atmosphere, we noticed lots of fried food tents and commercialized foods. Fried Oreos, Snickers, Twix. Any candy you can name, it was there- fried. Not to mention, fried chicken and onions. As a New Jersey native, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore. This was authentic North Carolina food? We finalized stumbled upon a tent for roasted corn on the cob, and were reassured to have an option that wasn’t fried. Of course, you could have your corn dipped in a vat of butter (which I opted out from) but hey, it was still a vegetable right? I have to admit, this corn was delicious. Perfectly roasted and tasty. As we chomped on our corn, we wandered through the eclectic crowds. There were groups of teenagers, families with young children, middle-aged groups of women, elderly couples holding hands, 20 somethings. There was no question that the festival drew in all different types of people.


We took some time to walk along the row of tents. Of course we came across tents for bows, flags, jewelry, clothing, ornaments, etc. We began to meander between the tents, finding the places to try different barbecue sauces dispersed within the tents housing t-shirts and costume jewelry. We skipped on the commercial tents, and made sure that we tried every barbecue that we could find. We waited patiently at each of the sauce tents, with the scent of barbecue wafting as we waited. From Bubba’s Finger Lickin, Throat Ticklin sauce to Nephew’s BBQ Pumpkin flavored sauce to Knot a Yankee BBQ sauce (which was the only sauce that served theirs’ with some actual meat!), we got our fair share of tastings, from sweet to spicy. Tasting the different sauces was a nice reminder of the validity of this barbecue festival.


After spending some time tasting, we walked by a parking lot full of show cars, passed a stage with live country music, and found our way to a large map. We were curious to find the actual barbecue tents serving sandwiches and platters, and were shocked to see that there were only three large tents in the whole festival that were serving fully barbecue meals. We asked a woman who was handing out handheld maps, and she filled us in; the three tents were served by attendees and volunteers from barbecue restaurants in the area, like Stamey’s in Greensboro and Smokey Joe’s in Lexington. We took some handheld maps and were on our way, navigating through the crowds walking in aisles between the tents, past men holding “Trust Jesus” signs and shouting religious praises. We peaked in at each tent making up the long rows, watching people have caricatures drawn, tasting different chocolates and peanuts, and looking at Christmas ornaments and glass figurines. Of course we made sure to stop at all the food, not wanting to miss out on Carolina Kettle Corn, Virginia Peanut Company or the many samples of maple butter fudge, peanut butter fudge or dark chocolate fudge.


It took us about a half hour to get to the other side of the festival, between the crowds and our interest in the food tents. Once we finally reached one of the massive barbecue tents, we realized it was a good thing that we had stopped and snacked, because the lines were quite long. We found ourselves waiting amongst hungry barbecue fiends, for about 20 minutes with very little progress. I overheard a passerby say, “This is the only barbecue tent here!” While her observation was in fact incorrect, I could see where she was coming from. To the right of the tent was a seating area with about 10 long tables filled completely with groups of families and friends chatting and eating their barbecue; sandwiches, curly fries, hotdogs and barbecue trays on foil. I was surprised to see that these items were the only ones on the menu, but realized as I got closer and closer to ordering, that it simply made the process easier for the servers. As I peaked behind the servers into the inside the large barbecue tent, the hectic atmosphere was palpable. And it was no question why the atmosphere was so frantic; these servers had to make sure that each of the tens of thousands of hungry festival goers received their barbecue, and were content with their barbecue.


When we were finally close enough, all four of us ordered $5 barbecue sandwiches and received our food almost immediately. Opening the foil, I had very high expectations. As I bit into my tender, vinegar-based sandwich, I involuntarily “mmmed” at the delicious taste. So it was worth the wait. I opened the top of thee sandwich, and noticed that the meat was cut in very small chunks, and toped with tasty vinegar coleslaw. My classmates and I unanimously agreed; this was good. I looked around me at the hundreds of people, enjoying their barbecue. I couldn’t help but realize that despite the somewhat cheezy atmosphere, and the few tents serving actual barbecue meals, the Lexington Barbecue Festival added something to the culture of North Carolina Barbecue. The draw of the festival was unquestionable; barbecue lovers united at this event that is bound to continue for years to come.



2) Local Experience at the Lexington Barbecue Festival                   

By Brittany Wheatley


The only city festival I’ve ever been a part of is my hometown’s 4th of July celebration. The sidewalks are lined with crafts and decorations that try to link the passerby with the local businesses and a feeling of community.


When I was preparing myself to see the 29th Annual Lexington Barbecue Festival, an event that I had often heard of in the course of the two month count down, I did not picture Laurel, Delaware. I was expecting a fairground with plenty of parking, not Lexington’s Main Street shutdown from 5th Avenue to 4th Street and a $5 fee for all day parking in the backyard of longtime local, Kep Keply.


I arrived at 4:30pm, ready to spend the last 90 minutes of 2012’s festival with eyes wide open and my voice recorder close at hand so as not to spare a second when experiencing historic Uptown Lexington. Kep Keply was my first interview, and from him I learned that waiting for the end of the festival might have been a good choice if I wanted to see everything the vendors had to offer. “Two hours ago is was so crowded, you wouldn’t have been able to find parking, see the festival, or walk the trail.”


Keply has lived in Lexington since he was a young man, although he hasn’t been to the barbecue festival in years. With each passing year, the need for parking has increased and many community member like Keply charge a small all day fee to visitors so they can park in backyards. And it was here that I learned a community approach to the local festival I had never considered.


When I asked how he felt about the local event, I expected Keply and his neighbors to be rejoicing at the chance to share their community with others. The festival brings people from as far away as Germany and Australia to buy from a huge selection of food and craft vendors. Instead I learned that the event can be frustrating for locals and businesses. There isn’t enough parking, there aren’t enough people to organize a new system of parking, and almost all the businesses in the area of the festival have to close for the festival.


Some businesses, like the Purple Pig Emporium, stayed open; but it’s hard to compete for business with the festival affecting transportation. And there is a question of how cost effective is is for those towns to open on festival days. For the Purple Pig Emporium, the festival was their opportunity as a new store location to get their name out to the public. An art and collection gallery in which artists rent out a space and design to attract customers, the Purple Pig Emporium targets customers looking for something different. The owners were first attracted to Lexington because they saw the town as a growing shopping location. By just a glance in their store, they seemed to have plenty of customers despite the craft and attraction competition outside.


Vendors for the festival are approved by the festival director Stephanie Naser, who is also the daughter of the original Lexington Barbecue Festival, Stephanie Saintsing. Vendors submit a petition to be able to participate the festival. Some of the attractions that stuck out were a Statue Mime, Carnival Tent with an Elephant and Pigs sandcastle and the Farm Animal Race.


White painted face matches the tux and top hat of the Statue Mime who asks for tips to support local art; for a dollar or more, he plays a tune on black guitar an avenue before the Farm Animal Race. Pig and ducks with NASCAR related names (like Number Fourteen, Squealing Tony Stewart) attracted the kids and parents not busy with the kiddie rides or “The Tales of Barnacle Bill: Pirates, Poets and Pretty Maid All in a Row”.


The main attraction I expected was for the barbecue itself. I was looking forward to a competition between barbecue vendors, with a large selection of barbecue styles to choose from. What I found was multiple Lexington barbecue restaurants working together to create fifteen to sixteen thousand pounds of one recipe. Although it didn’t meet my expectation, the people and barbecue I was introduced to were phenomenal. I even saved enough room to try a North Carolina hand lump blue crab cake, a much creamer recipe than I have access to in my hometown.


Seeing the closing down of the 29th Annual Lexington Barbecue Festival allowed me to see the evolution of a local festival from massively populated to the barebones of a closed down town. The stark difference encourages me to want to see the beginning of the festival until it’s peak in 2013.



3) Writing in a Notebook at Stamey’s Barbecue                                                   

By Will Stiefel


Walking in to Stamey’s, you encounter a small waiting area with a counter in front of you. It is 1:00 PM on a Thursday. The counter runs around an entire side of the dining room, surrounding the kitchen, registers, and server area. Mostly individuals are seated at the bar and, when possible, there is a seat separating each customer. The customers at the bar are all older gentleman, appearing over the age of 40. Each has a coffee and one man is drinking a milkshake. Not everyone is eating at the bar. Those who eat, have a small sandwich or a small plated portion of chicken. While the men at the bar sit, drink, and eat quietly, the female servers buzz around cleaning and taking orders. Each server has her own section and keeps a very pleasant demeanor.


The main dining area is in front of the bar. There is a row of square tables running parallel to the bar, equally as long, with enough room to pass between the two sections comfortably. Each table sits four and none are full. The average table has two people sitting and eating, everyone who sits at a table orders food. One young soldier in uniform sits with his friends at a table near the back of the room.


A row of booths runs parallel to the tables along the wall opposite of the bar. More people are drawn to the booth tables than the middle tables. The wall along the booth is filled with old pictures from the early days of Stamey’s. These depict men fueling the barbeque pits or customers filling the restaurant.  The pictures give the inside atmosphere a more traditional sense of barbeque.


The tables are in high demand at the peak of rush and the waitresses turn them over as quickly as possible. However, everyone seems to be taking his or her time eating, talking, and relaxing.  While the restaurant is still crowded, our presence is not obvious. However, the rush comes and goes fairly quickly and, at around 2:20 PM, the restaurant is about a quarter as crowded. Now, as we are ushered to our seats in the corner of the restaurant, the majority of patrons are much older. Other than one man sitting by himself, everyone inside is seated at a booth table. There are three older couples, two middle-aged ones, and two mothers with children. The bar is now completely empty when it was full only fifteen minutes prior to us sitting. Post lunchtime rush must be a more flexible, quiet time for couples and families to eat at the restaurant.


The food is brought out very quickly, on different sized paper plates depending on what is ordered. Sides come in separate dishes. I order the sliced pork sandwich, which comes with coleslaw on top of the pork. I add the vinegar based barbeque sauce they provide because just the pork and coleslaw is a little too dry for my taste. The sandwich is delicious, the pork extremely tender. I also have a side of hush puppies that are equally well done. Crispy on the outside, warm and moist on the inside, just how they should be. Everyone else enjoys their food and the waitress is prompt, patient, and pleasant when dealing with is. Finally, when we are closing out our bill, the restaurant is relatively empty, with only three or four tables being used. The smell of pork wafts throughout the inside and even finds its way outside surrounding the restaurant. However, we learn that the pork is not cooked here. Rather, all of the pork is smoked at their High Point Road location.




Survey Results


Lexington BBQ Survey Results                                                                      

By Julia Realmuto


After sorting through several surveys from the Lexington BBQ Festival we were able to garner a lot of information about how people view North Carolina BBQ and its importance. Overall, we had 93 people participating in our survey. Of that 93, 63 thought they knew the difference between Eastern and Western North Carolina BBQ and 30 were able to admit they did not know the difference. Furthermore, 77 people were unbiased and said they would eat the other type of BBQ even if it was not their preference although there were 9 people who were die-hard BBQ lovers and would not eat the other type. Finally, 52 participants thought that BBQ was ‘very important’ to North Carolina culture, which was the overriding answer. Most people thought that BBQ had an important impact, which illustrates how ingrained BBQ is to the people of North Carolina. Interestingly, only 2 people out of the 93 thought that BBQ was not important at all to the culture.


Stamey’s BBQ Survey Results                                                                           

By Phoebe Hyde


After reviewing the survey data collected at Stamey’s Restaurant in Greensboro, NC, we were able to gain a sense for how people view North Carolina BBQ and the overall importance of BBQ. Overall, we surveyed 34 customers at Stamey’s. Of those 34 customers, 18 of them could articulate the difference between Eastern and Western North Carolina BBQ. Meanwhile, 25 of the customers surveyed stated that they were unbiased towards the two types of BBQ, regardless of their preference, and would eat both types. None of the customers surveyed were die-hard enough BBQ fans that they would refuse to eat either type of BBQ. Further, 17 of the 34 people surveyed believe that BBQ is “important” to North Carolina culture, while 11 out of the 34 people surveyed feel that BBQ is “very important” to North Carolina culture. Only one person believes that BBQ has no importance to North Carolina culture.


Poll of NC BBQ Results                                                                                

By Paige Ransbury


In an attempt to reach a larger audience, we created a poll and posted it on Facebook. 433 people, the majority of which were female between the ages of 18 and 30, took the survey. The results showed that the majority of respondents do not eat BBQ very often: nearly 60% eat BBQ less than once a month, and 37% eat BBQ 1-2 times a month. When asked how important BBQ is to North Carolina’s culture, nearly 42% answered that it is “very important” and 40% answered that it is “important.” Only 10 people out of 430 thought it was “not important.” While most people believed BBQ is important to the culture, less than half (49%) of people who answered the question understood the difference between Eastern and Western North Carolina BBQ. In regards to side orders, 36.6% thought they were “important” when it comes to choosing a BBQ restaurant and 28% thought they were “a little important.” The most popular side order by far was hushpuppies, with 75.5% of respondents claiming it was their favorite side. Coleslaw came in second, with 54% of respondents claiming it was their favorite. The least popular side was pinto beans, with only 5% of respondents claiming it was their favorite.






Kaffe Cope and the Lexington Barbecue Festival

By Brittany Wheatley


Kaffe Cope, owner of Smokey Joe’s Barbecue, is one of the five Lexington barbecue restaurant owners who has participate in the Lexington Barbecue Festival since it’s creation. Each restaurant contributed fifteen to sixteen thousand pounds of barbecue for this local festival that brings visitors as far as Germany. As the 29th Annual Lexington Barbecue Festival wound down, Cope answered a few questions about the barbecue being served and the festival past and present.


What restaurants participate in the Lexington Barbecue Festival? Why them?

“Smokey Joe’s, Barbecue Center, Speedy’s Barbecue Inc., Jimmy’s Barbecue and Stamey’s Barbecue are all Lexington restaurants. We’ve go so much invested in this event, and even when people say there are other restaurants, you just don’t let another one walk in….We are five restaurants working together as a team.”


When did you start cooking for today’s festival?

“12 o’clock yesterday. We can cook 129 shoulders at my house. We cooked at the restaurant all night long.”


What kind of barbecue is made at the festival?

“Smokey Joe’s barbecue is pit cooked. Pit cooking is an art, and we still have people who know how to pit cook, so that’s what we choose to do at this time. It’s just a different kind of flavor. The slaw is ketchup based; made with ketchup, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. We have mayo based slaw at our restaurant, but not at the festival.”


What was your first Lexington Barbecue Festival experience like?

“It was a learning experience. And then the next year just washed us out. I mean, the chances you take of it raining after you’ve cooked a tremendous amount of food is always a worry. But we take it. It’s what we do for the community and the economy of the town.”


Some people local forward to the Lexington Barbecue Festival while others feel more resigned about the event. How do you feel about the situation?

“I do not understand that concept. In a town with 10% unemployment rate, why would you not want it to come to town with all the people who are spending money?


How do you prepare for next year?

“We start preparing for next year as soon as this one is over. We usually gage how this year went and then we start in the summer; we’ll talk and then have our first meeting right after Labor Day. We’ve done it so much, it’s really just watching the weather.”


Last Comments:

“We’re just so proud of our heritage, and our ability to do this every year.”


Jockey’s Ridge: Breathless Oasis

By Brittany Wheatley
I have left the plain, and each sinking step brings my wandering mind back to that realization.
The grains of sand pivot around your skin until you’ve sunk ankle deep; from the bottom of the
dune you look like a human growth on the East Coast largest sand dunes.
From the bottom of the first dune I felt that I was about to climb a really short mountain.
Breathless at the top, the trail of footprints looks like I stumbled, but no one would pay much
attention to my footprints here. The expanse of sand and the lack of a beaten path make my
leftover markings unremarkable to other people.
There are people here; at one count I spotted 28 people, but from where I stood, each individual
was an ant. A football stadium full of fans could walk on to Jockey’s Ridge, go in separate
directions and not meet their friends again for at least 24 hours. To me this is better than being at
the beach; the quiet where I can only hear wind whistles and uses the nearest American Beach
Grass as an alternative instrument. The reeds are sparse in number overall, nestled close to the
small puddle shaped lakes coming from heavy rain in the valley of the dunes.
The plant life was a surprise when I walked up the first dune. I paused in at the patch of forest
areas spread out in front of me and exclaimed: “Oh my gosh, there’s trees! There’s like this
random patch of trees.” Inside the forests, live oaks, red cedars, wax myrtle, bayberry, and read
oaks only make up a portion of the maritime thinckets. Per typical of arial perspective, the
patches looked more like broccoli bits separated on the plate. Expanses of desert shorter dunes
than the one I stood mesmerized was filled with the potential adventure I didn’t have time for.
A person can go to Jockey’s Ridge everyday of the week for years and never experience it the
same way. My experience was that of a wanderer. Turing left for ten minutes and then right for
thirty, zigzagging up one dune and down to the valley of the other side. A windmill marked the
entrance of my journey, like an enormous flag without marring the ocean view. The sand dunes
change, constantly blowing over and being built up by the wind current coming off the Atlantic
Ocean, although that in and of it’s self makes the exploration of the sand dunes an exceptional
joy. 420 acres of sand may never be walked over.
I spotted a couple who were dog walking, there was no leash and in the space of allotted, no
peace the barking dogs could bother. A family with five kids use a sand dune closer to the
entrance as a water slide. All members lined up to watch one another slide down wetted beach
sand into the shallow lakes bellow, cheering at the splash and no doubt enjoying nature’s toy and
the lack of lines that come with the territory of a manmade water slide. It’s a very safe, kid
friendly adventure. The lakes barely reach up to the shoulders of a nine-year-old boy lying down.
And the vantage point of being on a sand dune rather than flat beach is the ability to see the
actions of little kids from whatever direction they are headed easily.
I was able to observe their adventure and wade in the water as well; up to my ankles without the
fear of a currant taking me by surprise or kids tossing water up and splashing me by accident.
I’m also not in the way of young and old hang gliders, coming back from a lesson two or three
dunes outside of my exploration area. Free permits to hang glide are available through the park
office for those who have a valid USHGA rating, but for those interested in flight but do not wish
to their feet to leave the ground, the sand dunes are an ideal spot to fly kites.


By Will Stiefel

Our last stop on Highway 64, before reaching Tennessee, was the small town of Murphy. We pulled into Murphy early in the afternoon when the sun was at its hottest. At first, it seemed like the entire town was going out of business. Storefronts down almost every street were boarded up or had for sale signs in the window. Looking for a good, local place to eat seemed like it might be a challenge. However, we luckily ran into two Murphy residents just closing up shop as we walked down town. The two men ran a father and son law firm and were nothing but polite, helpful, and pleasant for the duration of our conversation.


When we asked the two men where we should eat, they told us that most of the locals eat regularly at Brother’s Restaurant. This sounded perfect, fitting right in line with the kind of place we wanted to track down. They then went on to describe directions to the restaurant. Their directions were great and almost humorously descriptive. In reality, Brothers was clearly visible about two blocks down the road where we stood. We piled back into our car and drove the two blocks in a rush to finish our driving by sundown.


Pulling up to Brothers, we had no idea what to expect. The front of the restaurant was quite large with aged wooden paneling running vertically across it. The moment we entered, we were caught of guard by the sheer size of the restaurant. It not only had a large waiting room and gift shop area, but also two separate dining rooms and a bar. No one seemed to be waiting and, even though there were many people seated eating, the restaurant was nowhere near capacity. We were ushered to a table near the back of the restaurant, a booth in fact. The hostess who seated us had an earpiece, indicating to me that things must get very busy here during their rush hours.


Our waitress was very pleasant and informed us that the owner, Dwayne Sneed, was not in that afternoon. She also pointed out that there were three separate Brothers location, indicating he might be at another instead. Upon hearing that Brothers was in fact a small chain restaurant, we were a little disheartened. Chain restaurants usually did not serve the best quality food or strongly represent their community. However, Murphy locals preferred Brothers so we stayed optimistic.


I ordered the fried green tomato BLT, one of their recommended dishes, and a side of fried pickles. Our food came out fairly quickly, which I could not decide was a good or bad sign. Unfortunately, it proved to be more negative than positive. The tomato was not very fresh and was tough to chew through. The breading on the tomato also seemed to slide off far too easily, making it a very unappetizing sandwich. The side of fried pickles had basically the same problem with their fried coating and proved to be not very good as well. Although I did not enjoy my meal, my friends seemed to somewhat approve of their dishes. Overall, I do not believe the food quality was in line with their high prices. That, along with the general tackiness of the western theme inside, made Brothers a mostly poor experience. I do not think I would recommend Brothers to anyone travelling through Murphy. However, this does not necessarily reflect the cuisine of Murphy as a whole. Given the chance, I would be happy to give another local restaurant a try.


The Brevard Breakfast Club

By Kelsey O’Connell

In the small town of Brevard, breakfast is hard to come by. Restaurants have come and gone with the times and that’s why one breakfast club in particular meets at one of the only breakfast joints in town, Mayberry’s.

The group has been meeting, in part or in whole, for 19 years of Saturday breakfasts. The group consisted of 9 men and women, all over fifty, on the day when my group and I walked into Mayberry’s.  I noticed them because they looked like locals; they were all comfortable and knew the waitress’ names. I ordered my breakfast and then decided to ask them about their experience with Brevard and Route 64.

The group was extremely welcoming, offering me a seat and jumping right into conversation. I learned that the members of the group all lived in Brevard and four were natives, some even attended Brevard College in town. However, not all were natives. Some had decided to move to Brevard after attending band camp there or even just driving through the quiet town. The group believed that the band camps, which have made Brevard famous, have been a catalyst for attendees later moving to Brevard.

The camps are not all that have made Brevard famous. The breakfast club thought that the town of Brevard had increased in size and notoriety since its association with Route 64. Though this increase has changed Brevard, it has also allowed tourists to experience the waterfalls, outdoors, and music associated with the town. The town has recently been written up in a major biking magazine and has attracted Dale’s Pale Ale to come to Brevard. Additionally, the music from the conductor of the Boston Pops is a major draw.

The residents remember a time when they knew the names of everyone in town even when they were “related to half the town,” but still appreciate the benefits of the growth. As two of the group received cards to celebrate their anniversary, I slipped away to let 19 years of traditions continue undisturbed.

The Raleigh Times: An authentic Raleigh business turned restaurant

By Mia Brady

Upon entering The Raleigh Times on East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh, I was captivated by the atmosphere. While this popular restaurant and bar opened just six years ago, the building it is housed in was constructed in 1906. The Raleigh Times, the newspaper for which this restaurant is named, called this building home for many years more than a century ago. The Raleigh Times pays tribute to this newspaper in more ways than its name; the inside of this old building displays original ceilings and original walls from the authentic building. Framed and blown up photos of Raleigh during the early 1900s can be found on the walls, as well as antique articles from the Times, and more modern day articles on the success of the bar/restaurant.

When handed the extensive menu, I was overwhelmed by the variety of choses of both beer and meals. Within the first few moments of perusing the menu, Phoebe and I knew we would be ordering beer. How could we pass up the multiple North Carolina, state brewed options, or of course, the ales straight from the oldest brewery in the world found in Germany? After ordering our beers, which arrived prompted in large, ice cold glasses, we asked the waitress for her opinion on food, wanting to ensure that we ordered the best of the menu. We had spent quite some time reading the descriptions of delicious sounding options like Meaty Crispy Chicken Wings and Chicken Fried Pickles for appetizers, and the Salami Brie Burger and Heavy Seas Hanger Steak, completely unsure of what to order. For an appetizer, she answered, without hesitation, “You have to get the nachos with BBQ pork. The pork is to die for”. We didn’t second guess her suggestion, and ordered these nachos along with the Braised Pork Enchilada, eager to try as much Carolina BBQ as we could. In addition to the enchilada, we got the Black & Blue Burger per the waitress’s suggestion as well, based on her claim that the seasoning on the burger added something more than we were used to.

We had a lot of food coming our way, but we were eager to put a taste to the unique atmosphere of The Raleigh Times. As we waited for our food, we intriguingly looked around the restaurant, admiring the photos on the wall as well as the old-fashioned ceiling. The nachos arrived first, and after just one bite, I was sold on the taste of the barbecue pork mixed with the traditional nachos flavors of cheese, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. When the Braised Pork Enchiladas and Black & Blue Burger arrived, we split each dish half and half to share, eager to taste everything.

The enchilada encompassed the same delicious taste of barbecue pork from the nachos, while the burger was perfectly cooked, while the seasoning, blue cheese and sautéed onions added a flavorful addition. We kept eating, despite the fact that we were absolutely stuffed, until all plates were nearly clear. Between the delicious, unique-tasting food, the appealing atmosphere and rich history, The Raleigh Times is not a place to miss in the state’s capitol.



Mocksville’s Town Cat

By Chelsea Vollrath


As Paige and I sat in Restaurant 101, we both gazed out of the restaurant’s big front windows, taking in the sites of Mocksville while enjoying our lunch. Our eyes traced the main street as far as the windows would allow based on where we were sitting. We watched as a steady stream of men and women walked by, some stopping in the various shops lining the street, others continuing on to destinations unknown to us. One man in particular caught our attention. The metal knee brace on his left knee inhibited his walking ability and caused him to linger in front of the window longer than most passersby. Hadn’t he passed before? Wasn’t he just on this side of the street?


Considering the speed at which he was walking by the window and the number of times I saw him pass, he held my attention throughout most of the meal. I wondered why he kept walking by, seemingly without a specific destination in mind. I wanted to talk to him and find out more about him; dressed in a tattered denim shirt with a six inch rip down the back, acid-washed jeans, the knee-brace, heavily-worn work boots, and a backwards hat, he just looked interesting. I was too timid to approach him, though, so when we finished our meal we didn’t pursue finding him to start a conversation and just began our exploration of the town’s small shops and businesses. After leaving the first store and heading to the second, we passed him sitting on a bench on the sidewalk. We smiled politely and intended to keep walking, despite my interest in him, until he stopped us.


“Hey! Hey girls,” he called out to us. “Come here, I need to tell you something.”

Paige and I exchanged a skeptical glance, questioning if we should go talk to him. We chuckled, and turned around.

“Hello, sir. What’s up?”

He motioned with his index finger, encouraging us to come closer; we obliged.

“I want you to make me a promise.”

Again, Paige and I looked at each other, laughed, and nodded our heads in agreement. “Okay, what is it?”

“Stay beautiful. Just, stay beautiful. You’re both beautiful girls…and, and I just want you remember to stay beautiful.”

His words were muffled and difficult to understand, but his message was clear. We thanked him for his kindness, quietly laughed to each other and proceeded to walk on as he continued calling out after us.


We walked into the bookstore and talked to the storeowner, but when we left, the friendly townie was still sitting on the bench where we’d left him. We walked by him again, and this time as we were approaching, he initiated conversation. He asked us if we remembered our promise to him. We stated we did, but he proceeded to repeat himself. When he finished babbling about our promise to stay beautiful, we seized the opportunity to learn more about him; well, as best as we could. We asked how long he’s lived in Mocksville and he quickly responded he’s lived in the town for his entire life, calling himself “The Town Cat.” Yet again, Paige and I exchanged confused glances. The town cat? What does that mean? When we asked him, he seemed surprised we didn’t understand. He explained everyone calls him cat because he can’t remember people’s names so he calls everyone cat. “Cat” continued to tell us that, due to an accident that occurred when he was 16, he is paralyzed on the right side of his body and doesn’t have a good short-term memory. I was tempted to ask him to tell more about the accident but, afraid of offending him, I didn’t press the issue. I was still processing his explanation of being “The Town Cat,” anyway.


We tried to get him to comment on Highway 64 and its influence on the town, hoping he’d have more incite than most considering he’s lived there his whole life. That was wishful thinking.

“This is what I can tell you about Highway 64,” he began. He turned his hat around to be facing forward, before continuing. Pointing to his left, and then to his right, he explained, “It goes that way, and that way.” Again, we laughed. He hadn’t given us much information, but he certainly was amusing. We needed to move on, but before we did, Paige asked to take his picture. He agreed, but first insisted that he turn his hat backwards to show the hat’s message: “FBI: Forever Believer in Jesus.” He formed the shaka on his left hand.  “I want you to get a picture of how I always am,” he explained, and then Paige took the picture.


I shook his hand, told “Cat” it was nice to meet him, and wished him well before we continued on. He continued gesturing with the shaka, rotating it back and forth for emphasis, and reminded us, yet again, to stay beautiful.

Mackey’s Ferry Peanuts


By: Phoebe Hyde


While cruising down the two-lane highway, a grass median as a barrier between the minimal oncoming traffic, we pulled a u-turn about ¼ of a mile past this traditional, Cracker Barrel-like establishment. The billboard for Mackey’s Ferry Peanuts had caught our eye about two miles back. “Mackey’s Ferry” rang a bell after our initial research of the outer banks region that once depended on Mackey’s Ferry to transport visitors from the mainland to the outer banks in the once-upon-a-time absence of a bridge connecting the mainland to the island. While handing us free samples of all sorts of treats, Pam (the employee working at the time), explained to us that original ownership of the establishment dates back twenty years, with the current owner holding authority for the past three.

A plethora of aromatic goodies fill the store, leaving not an empty space on any wooden bookcase-like shelf. From homemade peanut butter, peanuts, and peanut brittle, to 20 kinds of fudge, to molasses cookies awarded the 2010 Blue Ribbon from North Carolina’s Specialty Food Association, to North Carolina muscadine grape cider slushies, to moonshine jelly, Mackey’s can pretty much offer any cure for a sweet tooth. While about half of the store is canned products, each good is locally grown, making this establishment rather unique. The other half of the store if filled with tourist-focused items, inclusive of t-shirts, stuffed animals, mugs and other merchandise.

The substantial size of the building initially perplexed me, given the name of the establishment, which clearly dedicated the store to peanuts. What was so special about peanuts and why would such a place be located here amongst vast open fields in the quiet town of Jamesville? Well, I soon learned, upon additional research, that North Carolina is the third-largest peanut producer in the United States, right below Georgia and Texas. The state as a whole is home to more than five thousand peanut farmers in twenty-two counties. Now things started to make a bit more sense.

Mackey’s Ferry Peanuts housed a larger variety of peanuts than I had ever known even existed—dry roasted, blister fried, flame thrower, French fried, salt and pepper peanuts and more. My tolerance and fondness for heat made me partial to the flame thrower peanuts. Pam, however, preferred blister friend, which are made by soaking the peanuts in water prior to roasting them. As I spooned out my third helping of flamethrower peanuts from the free sample jar, I inquired about how all of these peanuts were made. Pam willingly shared the peanut making process with us. First the peanuts are roasted, then your grind them up and add molasses, salt and powdered sugar. The last ingredient threw me for a loop, but they sure as hell tasted good! We learned that eight people at Mackey’s Ferry Peanuts are in charge of making the peanuts each Monday of every week, allowing the peanuts to be served the following day. However, eight quickly turns into about 16 employees around Christmas time, according to Pam.

We were pleased with our choice to stop into Mackey’s Ferry Peanuts for a tasteful snack before proceeding another hour or so eastwards along Highway 64, and would recommend choosing Mackey’s Ferry Peanuts as a pit stop to break up the long westward drive down the straight, two-lane highway when leaving the beach!