Saturday, May 3, 2014

Red Dirt BBQ and Music Fest, Tyler, Texas 5/3/14

Red Dirt BBQ and Music Fest, Tyler, Texas 5/3/14
My what a great time we had today.  After a short drive to Tyler from DFW, we checked in with our VIP tickets about 30 minutes before opening.  Scott's reservation seemed to be missing, but he had his ticket and they found a goodie bag for him, even though it didn't have his name on it.  As we waited for the fest to open, we hung out in the shade and talked with some nice folks from Shreveport as well as two of the organizers from the Houston BBQ Fest, from which Scott happened to be wearing the shirt. 
Things kicked off right on time with VIP entry at 2 pm.  Scott and I split up pretty quick and started running from tent to tent gathering meat.  We quickly noticed that there were no paper towels at the tables, which was a bit of a problem, but I had packed my own towel for just such an occasion.  There were napkins at some tents and there were also paper towels at the hand wash stations, but a Q fest where most people are eating with their fingers really should have some paper towels or napkin dispensers at the eating tables.  One of the few negatives at this very well run fest and a simple 1st year mistake that can be easily corrected next year.

As I went from joint to joint I was very very impressed with the quality of the BBQ.  There was not a single piece of brisket that was undercooked.  Every piece of fat I got was well rendered and flavorful.  Only 2 brisket samples were overcooked to slightly mushy.  Smoke flavor was present in almost every bite of brisket.  Not a single rib pulled off the bone.  Most left perfect bite marks.  Only one rib I sampled was a bit tough.  All of the sausage was good to great.

It wasn't long before I pulled out the plastic bag and started saving all my leftovers.  Very little meat was thrown out on this trip and I can enjoy this fest for a few more days thanks to my little ziploc bag. 

We ran into Daniel and he seemed to be having a good time "working" the event.  I did notice he got more BBQ than I did at a few booths where I was behind him.  Hmmmm.  Scott tried to talk him into a photo feeding me a rib, but he wasn't letting go of his rib for anything.   Ah, a man like me.  Hah!  Thanks to Scott for the photo.

The VIP price was well worth the extra expense as lines were very short to non-existent.  I used my 2 drink coupons for some Shiner Bock and it went down mighty nice with the excellent Q.   Scott went off in search of some soft drinks and returned with free ice cold samples of "Dr. Blast" from the Brookshire's booth.  Good stuff.  One of the better Dr Pepper clones I have had.
The free soda was even better when the general admission hordes descended at 3 pm.  It seemed like the lines to purchase beer tickets immediately stretched out to great lengths, despite the presence of several such booths.  The wait at the beer tent itself never seemed very long, but the wait to get beer tickets was.  In contrast Brookshire's was handing out free soft drinks with no wait at all.  What a great promotion. 

Back to the BBQ, it is hard to pick out the winners from such a quality field, but I think I would choose the rib I had from Hutchins BBQ as my favorite rib of the day.  Nice bite mark and flavor, but the standout part was a slightly crispy bark on the outside.  Almost like a grilled finish.  My favorite bit of brisket was a killer burnt end from Lockhart Smokehouse.  There's more than one photo of that below but don't view the enlarged photo unless you want to get real hungry.  Louie Mueller's sausage was my favorite of the day, but I have to say there was a lot of other good sausage as well.

For a first year fest I thought the organizers pulled off a great day.  We didn't hang around for the music festival, but I can't wait for more BBQ next year!  I suspect Scott and I will be back to East Texas before then for a tour or two.
3 sets of fest photos below.

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