I also realize I might be one of only four city residents who actually admits to that, the other three being Joe Sink, Lee Jessup and Newell Clark. But Joe is a founder of the event, Newell is the mayor and Lee is the Opening Ceremonies emcee, so their enthusiasm is obvious (although sincere, I'm sure.)
By contrast, I have friends who actually leave town on festival day, wanting to put as much space between themselves and 200,000 barbecue eaters as possible. Their loss, I figure.
|Not much of a crowd at 7 a.m. — perfect for scouting out the festival.|
Sidebar: One of my friends, a new resident to Lexington, vowed she wouldn't go to the festival because of her anticipation of a ginormous crowd. However, she met us on Main Street around 8 a.m., stayed until 11, went home to chill and meet her daughter coming up from Columbia, SC, and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the festival, mostly (as I understand it) with a smile on her face.
The festival can do that to you. It's truly a bucket list event.
|This year the Main Stage featured gates and fencing for security reasons.|
Although the weather was nearly perfect — sunny and cloudless, with afternoon temps that reached into the mid 70s — the early morning crowd developed slowly. Kim and I left by 11-ish, so I had to depend on friends to tell me that the afternoon once again saw peak attendance.
|High-flying dogs were a big hit. (Photo by Newell Clark)|
This particular portion of the festival was held in the field behind the Civic Center, where the Barbecue Cook-Off is held in the spring. Although it steers some of the crowd away from the vendors and other sights on Main Street, it is a logical gathering place. Stage 4 is located here, as well as the Wine Garden, and bringing folks to this location may take some of the pressure off the crowds on Main Street. It makes sense to me.
For the first time in 31 years of festival going, I did not buy an official festival barbecue sandwich. This has been a long-standing tradition with me, my way of supporting the festival, but this year I couldn't bring myself to pay $6 for a sandwich, or $12 for a tray. Hey, the cost of gas is going down, why not pork? So we opted out and had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. I asked them how come there was no barbecue taco on the menu. They laughed politely. Gringo.
But the party did spin off to Second Avenue later in the day. We have neighbors who have a huge front porch, and during the summer, they occasionally hold impromptu social gatherings for their friends. This was one of those moments. We had perhaps 10 or 12 adults crammed together with a bunch of their kids running around, which might force us to be credentialed next year — like a beer garden.
All in all, it was another perfect festival. I love it.