Steve Jenkins hosts another major-league blast in Dallas
by Ellis Walentine
Quick, what do you call 60 woodworkers, in a serious custom shop, with a roast pig and tons of other food on a beautiful day in Dallas? Answer: Steve Jenkins fourth annual Texas barbeque and swap meet, held on October 23, 2004, on the sixth anniversary of WoodCentral. All I can say is what a day!
I had been overdue to visit with my brother and his wife in the Dallas area, and when Steve announced his picnic, I knew right away that this was the perfect occasion. I had missed Bill & Lisa Grumbine's "5 Barns" picnic, less than 20 miles from my house, a couple months earlier because of back trouble, and this time I was determined to do whatever it took to make it to Steve's shindig, even though it was more like 1600 miles away.
When we rolled into Steve's parking lot at about 10:30 am, there were already about 40 to 50 people there, hanging around inside and outside Steve's shop, chatting and carrying on. The shop is large - probably 60 x 100 feet - in a small industrial park in Dallas' northwest corner.
Outside in the parking lot, a bright red, pull-behind barbeque trailer, ably staffed by Stephen Stokes and his brother Doug, was putting out some amazing aromas presaging the world-class pulled-pork extravaganza to come later that afternoon.
Stokes and his brother are keepers of an old North Carolina family recipe that goes back at least a couple generations. Unlike Texas and Memphis barbeque, which usually consists of slow-cooked, melt in your mouth, brisket, the North Carolina recipe starts with a small pig, split down the middle lengthwise and cooked outside-up in a heavy wood and gas fired barbeque pit. Throughout the cooking process, Doug Stokes would frequently inject the rich, hot, vinegar-based barbeque sauce under the skin of the pig, using a big stainless steel syringe. The result was exceptional.
Before, during and after the feedbag phase of the party, folks gathered around some of the attractions in Steve's shop: work in progress, a great collection of industrial duty machines, and endless racks of nice looking lumber and other materials.
WoodCentral's finishing maven, Sam Simpson, was there in full lab gear, giving an animated and informative presentation on French polishing for the guests. Sam showed how to prepare the "rubber," with its inner wad of linseed-oil-soaked cloth, surrounded by a wrapping of cotton t-shirt that he charged with buttonlac shellac. Using a few mahogany plywood panels he had brought along, Sam showed how easy it is to apply this traditional finish in short order.
Across the shop, Larry Hancock was putting his inimitable Oklahoma spin on a couple of demo bowls of mesquite and ambrosia maple, holding the onlookers spellbound with his deft and unerring use of some unconventional looking bowl gouges, texture tools and other implements of the turner's arsenal.
When Larry was finished, Dave Smith, who had come all the way from Longview, WA, with his wife and his enormous blue truck, hopped onto Larry's Jet Mini for a quick demo on plate turning - yet another informative demo.
Dave Arbuckle and his daughter Melinda helped Steve draw the winners of the gaggle of door prizes that had been donated by partygoers and local vendors.
By the time five o-clock rolled around, everyone was looking very satisfied: filled with world-class barbeque, regaled by many stories (and more than a few tall tales) and full of the comfortable feeling you get when you're in the company of dozens of good friends. My brother and I were delighted to join such a fine group of folks for such a splendid afternoon.
Thanks again to Steve and Margie for their wonderful Texas hospitality. This could easily turn into an annual event for me. I really hope to do it again.
... Ellis Walentine
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