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Story by Matt Young. Pictures by Matt Young (or random strangers).
Cary, NC – The self-proclaimed greatest beer sippin’, bourbon tastin’, music listenin’, cigar smokin’, and barbeque eatin’ festival in the USA hit Cary this weekend. I’d proclaim it pretty darn good myself.
One of its stops on the tour this year was Cary’s own Koka Booth Amphitheatre as it travels also to New York City, Nashville, Atlanta and a handful of other towns.
I made a list of my top ten things. Beer, bourbon and barbecue were all on the list. So I had to go.
We made our way to the parking lot and waited for entry. THAT was without a doubt, the happiest line I ever waited in. Five guys in overalls played bluegrass and New Orleans style jazz, while complete strangers talked and joked with one another in the mid day heat. Nobody worrying here at all.
As we entered we were handed some trinkets: beer coozies, match boxes and the like and then we were handed a tasting cup that we were to use for the day.
We were treated to unlimited beer and bourbon (and other booze) under the welcoming shady tents. There were 40 bourbons and 60 beers on tap. I did not try them all - for the record.
There was delicious BBQ smoke in the air and I tried A BBQ sandwich with cole slaw from NC Ribs On Wheels BBQ after I got my first beer (Lagunitas IPA). Three hours later I had a half rack from Big Al’s. I even got to meet Big Al. He is big. And his name is Al. They won second place in the Ribs Contest. They were robbed.
There was great music on the stage from a band playing southern rock selections from The Allman Brothers and other legends. There were beer contests, sauce contests and even a “Cary’s Best Beer Belly Competition”.
We watched a the cigar roller from Cortez Hand-Made Cigars roll cigars. I stood there and smoked one while sippin’ on an iced bourbon by Jack himself and chatted with some more happy strangers.
The most delighted I was all afternoon was when I got in a long line assuming there must be something good going on in the front of the line. It was really, really hot outside.
I wasn’t paying attention, engrossed in conversation until I got to the table and saw that two young women were making “booze” snow cones. I shouted in (awkwardly loud) surprise and glee, “Wow - snow cones!” I could hear the laughter in the line behind me. Even the two women that had been serving the snow cones for three hours were pleased.
It was a blast. When it comes around next year, even if beer, bourbon and bbq are only in your list of favorite 100 things, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.