Dang. Another great event scotched. These indeed are the times that try men’s souls.
I suppose some of you may not be aware of the Ayden Collard Festival, although it is a major event in Pitt County. But then you may not be aware of Ayden. Even within Pitt County, since it’s overshadowed by Greenville. If you are aware of Ayden, it’s probably because you went to the Skylight Inn for their iconic barbecue tray — one of the world’s great meals. Even then, you may not be aware that Ayden is famous for the heirloom collards that are grown there, and that the collards are celebrated in an annual festival. The Skylight Inn doesn’t serve collards.
Full awareness of the sublime quality of Ayden heirloom collards comes with a trip to Bum’s Restaurant in Ayden, a font of culinary glory and one of 10 barbecue places worth a detour. Their barbecue is as good as or better than that of the Skylight Inn, and they serve the best collards I have ever tasted.
Bum’s also has other excellent vegetables and glorious Eastern North Carolina corn sticks. And really good banana pudding, served warm with cinnamon. Just think about that.
The Ayden collards are justly celebrated at an annual festival whenever a pandemic isn’t raging, as it was last April, or lurking, as it is now. You can read further details of the Ayden Collard Festival here. All you need to know right now is that if you go to Ayden this year, you won’t find a festival. You will, however, find the two best places to get Eastern North Carolina Style barbecue on earth. For now, ya’ll should mark your 2022 calendars, and plan a trip to Ayden. Go for the festival, or swing by on the way to the beach. And be sure to stop by Bum’s and the Skylight Inn. Or if they’re swamped for the festival, go up to B’s in Greenville (which should be a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or Sam Jones in Winterville. Speaking barbecuilly, you’ll be in hog heaven when you go to Pitt County.
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