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Axton man wins cookoff; 1,300 turn out for activities
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Neil Doub (left) and Eddie Matthews, both of East Bend, N.C., finish cooking their barbecue on Saturday morning at the Spencer-Penn Cookoff. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gary Abbott of Axton was the big winner Saturday at the Spencer-Penn BBQ Cookoff, securing the first-place trophy.

“I thank everyone, especially our pig competitors. You’ve been a great group to work with,” Mary Jordan of the Spencer-Penn Centre said before handing out the trophies for the first-, second- and third-place cookoff winners.

Abbott said he was surprised he won.

He didn’t think he stood a chance of snagging first place, “not against these guys,” Abbott said of Neil Doub and Raymond Miles.

Doub, of East Bend, N.C., took second place and Miles, of Bassett, came in third.

Ten teams competed in the cookoff. They began cooking Friday night and continued through the night until the winners were announced at 11 Saturday morning.

All three winners received trophies and money — $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third place. A showmanship trophy and $100 was presented Friday night to Eddie Matthews of North Carolina.

The cookoff included entertainment, an antique car and tractor show, an auction, crafts for sale, vendors, a photography exhibit and historical encampments.

But many of the at least 1,300 people who went to the event were there to sample the pork.

“We are going to go and have some barbecue,” said Beth Robertson, who arrived shortly after the cookoff winners were announced. She was there with her husband Jim Robertson, daughter Nicole Robertson and grandson Logan Robertson.

Jim Robertson, she said, attended school at Spencer-Penn. But Saturday’s event was the first time the rest of the Martinsville family had been here.

On their way to taste the pork, the Robertsons passed a vendor selling birdhouses and another with a variety of items, including chicken puppets.

“We really do like the chickens,” Robertson said.

Jimmy Hancock of Sanville said the event for him was more about antiques and less about swine.

Walking around and checking out the antique vehicles, Hancock explained that he brought his 1940 Ford Standard Coupe to display.

“We go to several cruise-ins around” the area, he said, adding that he also attended the event last year at Spencer-Penn. “I just like to look.”

Joe Rakestraw of Martinsville said he frequents Spencer-Penn.

“I come to about everything they have here,” including all the music events. “They’ve got some right nice vehicles here today,” he said, and added that one in particular caught his eye.

“I had a ’47 Ford like the one over there,” he said, pointing across the parking lot. “It was the last car I had before I went into the Marine Corps. Same year and everything.”

Martinsville resident James Rodgers sat near his 1957 Chevrolet pickup, talking to spectators and enjoying the spring day. He said he also attends many events at Spencer-Penn, often with his brother and sister-in-law, John and Virginia Rodgers.

It also was memories — not BBQ — that attracted Andy and Sharon Wolfe of Martinsville to the event.

“I went to school here” from 1977 to 1982 “and I love it,” Andy Wolfe said. “I love what they’ve done with the school ... there are a lot of memories here.”

Sharon Wolfe also was impressed.

“I think what they’ve done with the school is absolutely amazing,” she said.

Several members of the George Wallace Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution provided historical presentations, according to Mike Bass of Ridgeway, a member of the group.

William Clark and his wife, Harriet Kennerly Radford Clark (better known as Craig “Rocky” Rockwell and his wife, Carolyn Rockwell), manned a tent and provided information — in character — on the Lewis & Clark Expedition and beyond.

Jordan said the cookoff and other activities will be held again next year.


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