We all make sacrifices in our working lives. This is not the story of one of those.
A recent interview with community organizer Jason Moreno ended with an invitation to serve as one of the barbecue judges at the South Side Family Fun Fest on Sunday, Sept. 6. I couldn’t accept quickly enough.
You don’t need me to write an article to tell you how great barbecued ribs are or about the impact it makes on our tables. Cookouts, parties, celebrations, family dinners…all easily enhanced by ribs.
You don’t need a recipe thrown at you either, because if you make ribs, you already have your method for doing it. And chances are you are too stubborn to veer from that method, nor should you. Anyone who makes ribs knows it is a personal thing, even if they won’t admit it.
Instead, this is a chance to thank Moreno and the rest of the organizers for the chance to be there and help judge the cook-off. More than that, though, it was a great opportunity to see a part of the community come together and celebrate in a way that I normally just read about in news stories.
That would be my fault, of course. I live in St. Joseph County and when I work in Elkhart, it’s always north of tracks. There have been a few times where I have been to the Tolson Center and once at Bashor but for the most part, I was visiting a part of Elkhart on Sunday that I just don’t know outside of the scary stories of things that sometimes go wrong there.
And that’s a shame.
Here’s what I saw at South Side Family Fun Fest: I saw a lot of kids running around having the time of their lives. I saw people cooking ribs for the entire neighborhood. I chatted with one of the contestants, Mr. G, shortly after I had done my duty as a judge.
“Good luck,” I told him as my wife and I were walking away.
“Aw,” he replied. “I don’t care much about the contest. They called me up and said ‘We have all this meat and we need people to cook it.’ And here I am. This is about the kids.”
And he meant it.
Technically, as this was a contest, there was a winner. Congratulations are due to Sam Borum for crafting the tastiest ribs of the day, according to the judges — of which I was happy to serve a part. I have no idea which ribs were his because all eight entries came to us anonymously in our little judging room. All of them were great, though, even if one was a little sweet for my taste.
The real winner, though, was the community. Everyone who came out had a great day under the sun, with plenty of great food and ice cream around. There was entertainment and a lot of civic pride.
It was the sort of thing we need more of. Especially with barbecue.