Friday, July 20, 2012

Saving Sams

Readers of FITBB know my love for West Tennessee BBQ and the people that work so hard to keep this dying art alive. Our dear friends at Sam's BBQ in Humboldt Tennessee lost their business to fire and we want to help them rebuild. Please read the following from our friends at the Southern Foodways Alliance.
 SamsBefore 2SamsAfter 2
 Before and After

Sam's Bar-B-Q Rebuild Weekend
Friday and Saturday, July 27-28
Humboldt, Tennessee

The Fatback Collective, along with the Southern Foodways Alliance, and Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q, invites you to volunteer your time, muscle, and skills to rebuild an institution, Sam's Bar-B-Q in Humboldt, Tennessee.

Founder Sam Donald began smoking hogs in the 1940s. Through the years, Sam worked for other men, smoking their hogs and stirring their sauce. In 1988, Sam and his wife Mary Donald, opened their own place, Sam's Bar-B-Q, specializing in shoulder meat sandwiches and sweet potato pies.

Sam built a pit alongside his building, a dome-topped double-decker behemoth. Oak and hickory limbs burned down to coals on the bottom. Up top, those coals smoldered, cooking and perfuming pork shoulders.

When the SFA began its oral history work, Sam Donald was one of the first pitmasters interviewed.

Through the years his family commitment, and that of other great American pitmasters, has inspired all of the hosts of this work weekend.

Now it's time to give back.

In June of this year, Sam's, now run by John Ivory, son-in-law of Sam Donald, was hit by fire. Hard.

The family does not have the means to rebuild, without help.

That's where you come in.

From 8-4 on Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, volunteers from SFA, Fatback, and Jim 'N Nick's will join together in Humboldt to help put Sam's back on the path to reopening.

Toby Rumbarger from Jim 'N Nick's has done a site survey and developed a plan of work.

Peter Brigham, a construction company owner from Birmingham, stands ready to lead work crews.

Mary Beth Lasseter of the SFA just ordered two construction dumpsters, which will be in place by Wednesday.

We need 30 volunteers to do demolition and haul debris, under the supervision of skilled foremen.

That translates to 15 per day. You may sign up for a shift HERE.

Already booked for a shift are John Currence, Angie Mosier, Drew Robinson, Melissa Hall, Jill Cooley, Amy Evans, John T Edge, Patrick Brigham, Sara Camp Arnold, and Nick Pihakis.

20 slots remain.

Join us.

One more thing: We know that barbecue restaurants burn fairly often. It's a hazard of an industry that relies on fire for smoke. We realize that we can't come to the aid of every barbecue restaurant that burns. But we can help this time. And we hope, that by lending a hand, we can inspire others to do similar good works to sustain our great American folk food.

John T Edge and Nick Pihakis


Humboldt is 16 miles northwest of Jackson, Tennessee, just off I-40 between Memphis and Nashville.

Sam's is located at 500 West Main Street in Humboldt.

Lunch will be provided gratis on site each day at 11:30 by Clark and Juanita Shaw of the Old County Store in Jackson.

We'll eat barbecue from Helen's in nearby Brownsville on the night of July 27.

After you sign up for a shift, SFA office manager Julie Pickett will email you with contact information for the hotel rooms we've reserved in Jackson. You will pay for your own hotel room.

If you volunteer, you should bring heavy work gloves, a hat, a mask, and a six-pack of water bottles. If you can, please bring wheelbarrows, crowbars, and large shovels.

If you try to volunteer and all spots are already taken, we'll put you on a wait list for this weekend, or, as needs are further defined, check with you about a future weekend.

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