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Bluegrass & BBQ at Silver Dollar City

Updated on May 16, 2015
Classic Dobro
Classic Dobro | Source

Silver Dollar City's Finest Festival

While I have just experienced my first World Fest at SDC, finally getting the opportunity to see Ireland the Show (and LOVING it!), the first festival in May is one that I hold dear: the Bluegrass and BBQ festival. Beginning Thursday, May 7 and running through the 25th, this wonderful extravaganza of food and music goes right to the heart of me: food and music!

I can't say where I got my love of Bluegrass. None of my family listened to it while I was growing up but somewhere along the line I found it and fell in love with the banjo, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer, and thumping upright bass lines that make it special. One instrument captured my attention and has held it captive for close to half a century now, and that is the Dobro. The unique sounds of that slide guitar-like instrument is like a salve to my soul. The rolling notes that come from an expert pickin' of the banjo sets my heart a-thumpin' and the furious, quick pickin' sounds emanating from the mandolin speed it up a notch, but that Dobro...

Aaaaahhhhhh!

Bluegrass has its roots (get it? blue GRASS - ROOTS? I crack myself up!) in the Appalachian mountains and is a mix of Irish, Scottish, and English music that has been given an American treatment to become something unique. Alternately upbeat and happy, causing a toe to twitch and a foot to stomp; then a moment later sad and lonely, causing a tear to form, it is a gift to those who love it and a hard on the ears din to those who don't.

Bill Monroe is often called the Father of Bluegrass Music, primarily because he brought it to the attention of the masses. But it is far older than that, stretching back to the 18th century. Vocals often include a distinct "high lonesome" sound, often above what the normal tone would be. One either loves this or not, but to me that sound is among the best sounds a person can produce.

Combined with alternating leads on the aforementioned instruments and one has a veritable symphony, multiple notes coming together to create a sound that is greater than they are apart.

One of the performers who regularly comes to SDC each year is Rhonda Vincent and her group The Rage. Born in nearby Kirksville, Mo, Rhonda is a died in the wool bluegrass performer, often called the Queen of Bluegrass. In addition to her performances at SDC, she hosts a festival at Sally Mountain each 4th of July. She also has a number of albums out and frequently collaborates with other stars on their albums. We saw her this past weekend at SDC and she put on a good show, including a song where she brought her mother on stage to sing. Please watch the video I have included here, just to get a chuckle in your day. I laughed myself silly during the song as did my wife and son.

Now that's good bbq!
Now that's good bbq! | Source
Everyone loves a good rib!
Everyone loves a good rib! | Source

On To The Food!

While one is wandering round SDC, one will smell things, enticing aromas intent on having you enter stalls and restaurants to eat. Never is this more true than during this festival. Ribs, pulled pork, brisket, you name it it's here. One can walk into a single building here and come out the other end with concoctions and bowls, filled with BBQ this and that. Sandwiches, turkey legs, slabs of wet, sticky, sloppy, pork ribs that you will slobber over while rolling your eyes toward heaven as you suck the meat from the bone. No utensils are required here, just a napkin the size of a tablecloth.

If you're a good little reader, I might include a recipe of my own at the end of this hub for how to cook ribs and pork shoulder roasts for pulled pork in your own kitchen, complete with my home made rub recipe.

One of the tasting tables
One of the tasting tables | Source

For all of my concerns over a theme park and those who attend such, I still love SDC. The mass of humanity, the crowding, smoking areas, all fade into the background (for the most past) when I settle in to listen to that sweet bluegrass sound. And if you give me a BBQ sandwich with all the trimmings, well you might not hear anything from me for a while. I will be all happy, a little sleepy, relaxed with some of my favorite music playing in the background, settled in nicely on a stump, a front porch, in a rocking chair or in a soft seat in a theater in the park.

Of course, I might also get up and wander around a bit more, searching for another type of BBQ, or tasting the hundreds of BBQ sauces available on the square. That's right: I said tasting. They have an area set up with close to a couple of hundred or more BBQ sauces for one to taste. Sweet, brown sugar, hickory, molasses, mild, warm, hot, or oh-my-word hot: they have them all. Bottles open, tasting sticks available (one per taste please!) a person can wander about the tables trying this one or that one, dropping the last stick into the conveniently located waste bins and picking up another one, seeking to find that one taste you can't live without. We ended up trying a few and purchased a sauce based on root beer. Quite unique and flavorful, we plan to use this primarily as a dipping sauce rather than a basting/cooking sauce. One could easily spend a happy couple of hours tasting and trying out different flavors of BBQ, seeking the one that either sets your lips on fire or causes one to smile in pure joy.

So, you made it here! Good for you! And now: the secret to cooking ribs and making a great pulled pork sandwich are here for you to try.

First, the rub.

5 tablespoons of Light Brown Sugar, 3 tablespoons of Sea Salt, 4 teaspoons each of Paprika, Onion Powder, Mesquite Seasoning and Pepper, 5 teaspoons of Garlic Salt and 2 teaspoons of Garlic Powder. Place into a small plastic container with a lid and shake vigorously to mix. Yield will be about 1 cup of seasoning.

Next, cooking mouth waterin' fall off the bone ribs. Heat your oven to 225 degrees F. Allow it to come to full heat before putting your ribs in. Place the ribs onto a cookie sheet (I cut the rib into three portion to make it easier for them to fit onto one sheet) after spraying a bit of your favorite cooking spray onto the bottom. Spread your rub across the ribs, making sure you have them covered to your heart's desire. Add a bit more seasoning if desired (I add more garlic salt, onion powder, and a bit more pepper just for taste). Next, add some liquid smoke, dribbling it here and there across the upper portion of the ribs and adding some to the bottom of the pan for good measure. Lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the ribs and slide that cookie sheet full of ribs right into the oven. Now sit back and relax for about four (4) hours or so. A bit longer will make them actually fall of the bone for sure. At the end of this period, pull them out and spread your favorite BBQ sauce on top, or just leave 'em dry before placing them back in the oven for another 30 to 40 minutes. Take them out and let them rest for a few minutes before serving, preferably with some 'tater salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, salad and a big ol' glass of sweet tea!

Making a pulled pork sandwich goes much the same way with the exception of how long you cook it. A 4 to 5 pound shoulder roast will be done in roughly the same time, but if you get one bigger you will have to cook it longer. Figure on about an hour per pound or so at 225 degrees. But once you take it out, the magic begins.

For years, I have burned my little fingers trying to pull the pork apart right after it was taken out of the oven.

I have tried using forks; cutting or chopping. All okay, but never what I was really looking for. But today, I use a mixer.

A what?

Yes, a mixer. One of those you use for mixing cake batter and such. Just pull the roast apart into manageable sized pieces (about a pound or so each) and place into a good sized mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on low to begin, slowly moving it around the bowl catching the pork and shredding it. Move it up a notch and finish by continuing around the bowl for a few more minutes. Once you have it shredded to your desired style, place it into a large stainless steel pot. Add the drippings from the pan you cooked the roast in and stir thoroughly. Next, add in the BBQ sauce of your choice (we like Head Country and Sweet Baby Ray's but will also use Arthur Bryant, sometimes mixing a couple together to create a unique taste). Simmer for a half hour or so before serving, stirring occasionally to spread the sauce and drippings around. I promise you: once you have tried this, no store bought BBQ will ever stand up to your expectations again! Spread on a bun (try an onion bun for a different taste altogether), adding a slice of pickle, onion, and whatever you desire. Your taste buds will thank you!

Baba and BBQ! Yum yum!
Baba and BBQ! Yum yum! | Source

So, there you have it. Bluegrass music, BBQ both at the park and some you can try at home. I hope you enjoyed this article; I surely enjoyed writing it and listening to the music as I wrote it! Take care and

Y'all come back now, y'hear?

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    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun, Mike! We hope to be out there next Thursday!! ;-) Thanks for sharing! Y'all come on out! ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Been years since I've been to Silver Dollar. Still looks like a lot of fun.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very good read Mike, mouth watering recipes too. Even though I am Aussie I enjoy a bit of bluegrass. Used to love the Oakridge Boys, Poco, and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. This also reminds me of a Dr Hook song, 'The Queen of the Silver Dollar" even they were far from Bluegrass. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sign me up! Great music and pulled pork sandwiches? That's the definition of heaven on earth.

      Thanks for taking me along, buddy! Blessings always!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Mike....The first time I heard live, authentic Blue Grass (many years ago) was at a small town "Music in the Park" event. It was a really good time. Blue grass can really brighten your mood and get your feet to tappin!

      BBQ pork? WHO doesn't love it? Oh yeah, vegetarians. Sorry. I'll have theirs!....Thank you, Mike, UP+++

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      That sho is some fine music! Toe tappin', foot stompin' and head boppin'.

      I love this article, Mike. I'm behind in my reading, but after working all day, I settled into this piece and hoo doggie am I glad I did!

      Your recipe sounds delicious. As far as burning your little fingers, aren't you supposed to let meat rest first so all the juices go back into the meat (not to mention cooling off enough to handle)?

      I really enjoyed this. I love that you share your adventures with us.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      I'll still be working then but wish you the best! Have fun Sir.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      It surely is at times. Thank you Sir.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      Glad to have you Sir William! After writing this I just HAD to make more pulled pork this weekend. Still eatin' on some for lunch today. Good stuff Maynard!!! Take care buddy! Thank you!

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      You'll have to fight me for their share, but as I am a gentleman (kinda sorta) I will allow you first pickins'. Thank you Ma'am and have a wonderful day.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      I do hear one should allow the meat to rest, but sometimes I get impatient! And anyway, by adding the drippings back into the pot it all comes home anyway! How'd like that song Jerusalem Bridge? There are times I can't get it out of my head! I love love love it!! Glad you enjoyed this Cheyenne, it makes for a real good day to listen to music and eat bbq!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I absolutely loved this. I usually parboil my ribs for a short while, just to cut down on the grease and the cooking time. My problem is, that I just can't wait. Bet you had a fabulous time at that festival, with everything that you love at your disposal.

    • Mr Archer profile image
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      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      Deb I am so sorry it has taken me this long to respond; having just moved we have a new internet provider and my laptop is giving me fits with it. I am glad you enjoyed this, it was fun to write for sure. I used to parboil the ribs first, and it is crazy how much grease comes out this way. But anymore I just do them in the oven this way and I no longer have to babysit the smoker. Maybe not quite as good as on a smoker but they ain't bad! And yes I thoroughly enjoyed myself with family, food, and music all near at hand. Take care and have a wonderful day.

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