Blue Grass and Chickens and Hogs, Oh Num!.

I can’t believe my two favorite annual “food fests,” the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Hog Roast and the Randolph-Hampton Fire District Chicken Barbecue, are just weeks away. Both are 25 minutes south of the Twin Cities and feature cowboy-boot kickin’, toe-tappin’ Country and Blue Grass bands.
St. Marks’ Hog Roast is Sunday, August 7th from 11-2 p.m. It includes a bake sale of pies, cakes, cookies and bars, a silent auction, raffle and Wall of Wine. They start roasting the hogs the night before — you will not eat moister, more-tender pork than when it’s pulled fresh from the roast like this. Along with a bun and baked beans, you get a couple cobs of sweet corn just-picked from a nearby field.

At the end of the pork line is a kiddy pool placed atop a table and filled with ice cream buckets of salads in more varieties of Jellos, potatoes and noodles than your Lutheran aunt could ever dream of.

The church and yard is wheelchair accessible. Eat inside in air conditioning or head outside to a huge tent lined with picnic tables and a bandstand where the bluegrass band, “Long Time Gone” performs. Dinner is $10; a 1919 Root Beer float or a fresh piece of fruit pie made by the church ladies, are extra.

On Aug. 20th, the Randolph-Hampton Fire volunteer department holds their 44th Annual Chicken Feed and Street Dance, held to raise money for new equipment and building maintenance.

Half the fun at the Chicken Feed is watching the firemen cook the chicken. In the firehouse yard, they line up 6-8 cattle troughs filled with burning wood. On top of the troughs they sandwich about 100 pieces of chicken between two, handled, six-ft.-wide metal grilles. Working from left to right and on either side, two strong firemen grab the handles and flip the grilles, working down the line of troughs at as fast a pace as possible. The crowd cheers every time they reach the end, and the chicken is cooked to perfection.

Parking is on-street or in a local grain elevator area. All activity surrounds the fire station, from the chicken cooking in the yard to the bandstand on the street. The food line is just inside the station where you’ll also find dining tables. You can dine outside at picnic tables or hike up a small hill to sit on the grass.

The country western band, So Big, starts at 7 p.m. and there’s dancing in the street until 11. Porta potties include a handicap accessible one or there are bathrooms in the station; all areas except the hill are wheelchair accessible. Price: $11 adults; $7 children. Dinner begins at 3 p.m. and includes 2-3 pieces of chicken, just-picked corn, cold slaw, beans and a roll. They always ask if you want more chicken or corn while filling your plate. Don’t be shy or you’ll be begging for more.

The Randolph fire station is at 4365 292nd St. E., Randolph; www.randolphhamptonfire.org. St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is located on Highway 56 at 28595 Randolph Blvd., Randolph.

What community festivals are held where you live? What would you like to see done to make them more accessible?

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