Lines will be long and 'cue may run short again, so the best advice is to go early and have a backup plan. At least this year we'll be able to buy 'cue for cash at each booth, and won't have to wait in a separate long line for tickets.
There's sad news in the Eastern NC barbecue community, however, and it may have an impact on this year's pigfest.
Ed Mitchell, the consensus hit of last year's Block Party (his pulled pork was the best food at the festival by a country mile) has run into some legal trouble back home in North Carolina, and has been forced to close his eponymous restaurant, Mitchell's Chicken Bar-B-Q Ribs.
These three articles in the Wilson (NC) Daily News tell the unfolding story:
Mitchell's BBQ building is up for sale - April 23, 2005
Businessman arrested on tax charges - May 13, 2005
Ed Mitchell says he'll be back - May 27, 2005
Here's a brief excerpt from the most recent story (links added by your humble editor):
[Ed Mitchell] has enjoyed the barbecue limelight, and the current charges don't seem to be changing that.We have nothing but good wishes for Ed, who is a poet of barbecue, and hope that he gets things sorted out quickly. This sentence gives us a glimmer of hope for the future:
Mitchell signed a deal this year with N.C. A &T State University to create a line of organic barbecue. Mitchell was featured in the May issue of Food and Wine magazine in an article about N.C. barbecue. Gourmet magazine has an article about Mitchell in its soon-to-be-released July issue.
Arrest warrants allege that Mitchell, 58, knowingly aided and abetted the business to misapply $40,478 in N.C. sales tax, $22,488 in Wilson County sales tax and $13,053 in state withholding tax. He was also charged with failure to file state partnership and individual tax returns for tax year 2003.
Mitchell explained that the money owed has a lot to do with in-house management and his being busy with national tours.
"It shouldn't have been a big issue, but it was," Mitchell said. "We will address the issue and handle it appropriately and continue to move on."
Meanwhile, [Mitchell is] preparing to attend national events in June and July.I hope that one of those "national events" is the Block Party.
Last but not least, the Washington Post examines the age-old argument about which kind of North Carolina barbecue is better, Eastern-style or Western-style. The reporter collars veteran Tar Heel writers Jerry Bledsoe (formerly of the Greensboro News and Record) and Dennis Rogers (of the Raleigh News and Observer) and subjects them to a taste-off that is actually completely unfair, a rigged game and a total travesty.
(In other words, my side lost.)