My reasons for participating in both the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival and the Arkansas Literary Festival were not purely literary. They were also culinary.
I knew that by spending ten days in Oklahoma and Arkansas I would not only meet fellow writers and readers, which I did, but that I would also enjoy some fine barbecue, which I also did. I gave presentations related to Fighters & Writers three times during my miniature Southern tour, but had barbecue in half a dozen different places. Indeed, the main reason my wife and I stopped in Arkadelphia was because our Arkansas guidebook proclaimed a joint there, Allen’s BBQ, to be the best in the state. Folks in Little Rock disagreed. Some said Famous Dave’s was superior (even though it’s a franchise operation headquartered in Minnesota); others pointed to Sims (which has local roots). We tried both. I won’t say which I think is number one because I think it would take more than one meal at each restaurant to judge fairly. If I get another chance to do further research, I’ll surely take it. (Ron Settlers, proprietor of Sims, told us that the reason we can’t get comparable ribs in Portland, Oregon, is because proper preparation requires the hickory wood that grows in the South.)
Appropriately enough, Rex Nelson, the moderator of my Saturday afternoon session at the Arkansas Literary Festival, writes about barbecue, boxing, books and other shared interest at his blog, Southern Fried.