It was a normal Sunday afternoon watching football with Harlo and Geno at the Come and Take It.
We were watching the Houston Texans play, when suddenly a voice behind me said: “Hey, how would you like a free pass to the Texas Monthly barbecue event in Austin next weekend?”
I turned around to see my friend Wayne Baker from Baker Boys barbecue sitting next to me, and he had a big grin on his face.
“How would I like to eat and sample the best barbecue in the state of Texas?” I exclaimed. “Are you kidding me—when and where?! I am all in on that one.”
Wayne quickly explained 50 of the best barbecue joints in the state of Texas had been invited to participate in the annual BBQ Fest in Austin, and that 30 of the invitees had agreed to participate. Baker Boys, which was named as one of the Top 50 joints in all of Texas, would be participating.
“It’s a huge event, with the best of the best giving away tasting samples. Plus, they have live music and it’s a real honor to be included with the top BBQ joints in the state,” Wayne said.
I quickly agreed. Not only would I accept the invitation, but I would also cover the event for the Gonzales Inquirer. Wayne was ecstatic. So was yours truly.
On Friday of last week, Wayne popped into my office and handed me two tickets to the BBQ Fest. The event was going to be held at the Long Center on Riverside in Austin, but I almost choked when I saw how much it cost to get in. Over $40 for three hours of sampling (or gorging). We chatted about his plans for setting up, and then he was off.
Fast forward to Sunday. Driving into the Long Center in Austin on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. was a nightmare. Traffic was snarled. The parking ramps were full. People were everywhere. Yes sir, when it comes to Texas barbecue the people come out of the word work. On Sunday, they came out in droves.
It was a gorgeous autumn afternoon, with the sun shining and the temperatures hovering in the low to mid-70s. Everyone was smiling, there was good blues and country music being performed live, and all was right with the world.
After finding a parking spot three blocks away, I walked into the mecca of Texas barbecue. I took pictures, met some of the state’s best, and, of course, sampled some mean brisket, sausage and chicken. I meandered over to the Baker Boys booth and saw that the Baker Boys team was working their tails off. People were lined up to try their sausage, turkey and rice concoction. The action was non-stop, but they were holding their own.
I walked up and greeted Wayne who was carving turkey, and he looked up and smiled.
“How’s it going Terry?” he inquired. “Having a good time?”
“Yes sir!” I replied. “How are you folks doing on this fine day?”
Wayne and his dad just smiled.
“Things are really hectic, but we are having a blast,” Wayne said. “We got here about 4 a.m., and there was three inches of water here when we started but it has dried up and things are going great. We’ve served people from all over Texas and they are enjoying themselves.”
Baker Boys was serving turkey, sausage and a special rice concoction, and the food was delicious. In fact, after sampling lots of sausage at the BBQ Fest, Baker Boys sausage was at the top of the list. In my wanderings around the Long Center, I discovered that the best brisket that I tasted on Sunday was Snow’s Barbecue out of Lexington, Texas. Friendly folks, and succulent brisket.
Time flew by, but Sunday was just another chapter in my education as to what makes Texas special. The BBQ Fest was great fun and a great experience, and I want to thank Wayne, his dad and his wife for extending the invitation. They served over 2,000 samples and were great ambassadors for the city of Gonzales.
All I can say is I can’t wait for BBQ Fest 2019.