More than 2,000 attendees enjoyed everything from brisket to whole smoked alligator at the Fourth Annual Houston Barbecue Festival on Sunday.
It takes dozens of volunteers and many hours of preparation to put on the festival. Twenty-seven barbecue vendors participated this year. Some crews arrive at the Green Lot of NRG Park the night before to stoke the pits, enjoying some quiet moments of camaraderie the night before. Even those who don’t, often go without a night of sleep to prepare the smoky meats attendees crave. Trent Brooks of Brooks Place Barbecue said he’d been awake since 1 a.m. the night before but was in good spirits nonetheless.
That seems to be the case for all the pitmasters: tired but happy to be there. Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor had one of the longest drives to the festival. He made his food at the restaurant, then transported it in special cabinets to retain heat and keep everything fresh.
It was Grant Pinkerton of the Pinkerton’s Barbecue who awed the crowd with his whole smoked alligator. Attendees proved not shy, as the meat from the scaly, swamp-loving creature disappeared quickly.
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Although winds kicked up dangerously high the night before as rain passed through the Houston area, the day of the festival turned out blessedly temperate. Morning clouds kept things nice and cool the first few hours before giving way to a day of sunshine.