As a native Southerner and Columbia County boy, I have eaten barbecue all my life.
A few years ago, I was extremely excited when Bobby Waters was able to get a Memphis in May-sanctioned barbecue cookoff here in Columbia County. And I was saddened when he passed away two years later and the contest died with him.
So I was more than a little interested recently to see that the folks from the Columbia County Recreation Advisory Board, along with Jeb Bell at Wildwood Park, had put together the inaugural Sportsman Fest.
Now, it won't exactly be a barbecue cookoff, but it includes the next best thing: A wild game cookoff, with categories for "fur, fins and feathers." It also will have a 5K fun run sponsored by the Augusta Striders, and a vendor area that is rapidly turning into an outdoor trade show.
In fact, the vendor part of it, which normally is just a sideline activity, could be the biggest part of this festival. It already includes displays from Augusta RV, Hayes Marine, Academy Sports, the National Rifle Association, Waldens and Moore, the U.S. Army, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, American Wilderness Outfitters and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
All of it takes place at Wildwood Park Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or earlier if you're running or cooking. To sign up as a vendor, cook or runner, call Jeb at (706) 541-3761 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Regarding barbecue, I was intrigued recently to read the story when my brethren at The Chronicle held a little in-house barbecue tasting. And I was a little miffed when the only published comments about one of my favorites, Edmunds, were negative.
And then I was saddened to hear Monday that the restaurant's owner, Cleve Edmunds, died after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis - the same disease that killed Charlie Norwood.
Edmunds is a Columbia County institution. As Cleve pointed out a couple of years ago, it's likely the oldest business under the same ownership in the county, celebrating 40 years this year. It's certainly the oldest restaurant.
And the barbecue is a heckuva lot better than those casual judges said. The good news, I understand, is the family never told him about those comments.
Mr. Edmunds was a real character, and a tough loss for the county. God bless him and his family.
Message of reliance
News-Times cartoonist BJ Wood (coincidentally bumped from the page today by occasional contributor Brian Stewart) says he was watching a piece about the events of 9-11 when he had a sort of epiphany regarding people and the government.
Four planes were used that day in 2001, he points out. Three hit their destinations. The one that didn't was aimed at the United States Capitol, symbol of the federal government. It was brought down by citizens on board the plane. More recently, when Katrina hit New Orleans, federal government rescue efforts lagged far behind those of citizen volunteers.
The constant in these incidents, and other similar ones, is that we should rely more on ourselves and less on the feds.
"The bloated government we have now stems from the citizens depending more on it than themselves," Wood points out. "Sept. 11 showed the true weakness of the federal government, and the true strength of the independent citizens."
The lessons should resonate in our elections this year as citizens vote not for candidates who promise to do everything for them, but for those who will do the most to make government smaller and get it out of our way.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106.)
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