When Barbecue Gets Political

It started as a simple church fundraiser in 1929 to pay for new Sunday-school rooms. But the Mallard Creek Church Barbecue has grown into the "Granddaddy of Barbecues" for the entire state of North Carolina. This year, organizers are expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 attendees -- slightly more than usual. Why? Because it's a presidential election year, of course.

In addition to being a yearly pilgrimage for 'cue lovers, the one-day event has become a must-stop stomping ground for politicians looking to meet constituents before Election Day. "I don't know if we've ever been able to pinpoint when the politicians first started showing up, but we definitely appreciate it. It gets people out to the event that may not be natives to the area. But make no mistake, the barbecue came first. The politicians are there because barbecue brings out the people," says Charles Kimrey, who is in his twenty-third year of helping to organize this ever-growing event.

During the last seventy-nine years the barbecue has hosted everyone from local sheriffs, judges, and solicitors to the very top of the ticket (Kimrey recalls V.P. candidate Dan Quayle stopping by for a plate one year). All visiting politicians are corralled into a receiving line, where visitors can meet and chat with them, or bypass the politics and head straight for the barbecue and Brunswick stew, of which there will be 7,000 pounds and 480 gallons respectively. Rain or shine, boom or recession, Republican or Democrat, there will be barbecue. Says Kimrey, "It's been seventy-nine years. We must be doing something right."

11400 Mallard Creek Rd., mallardcreekbbq.com. October 23, 10 a.m. until all the barbecue is gone

Categories: Feature, Food + Drink, Restaurants & Food