Nacogdoches' Do Dat BBQ is reborn

Ryan Sitton with Second Hand Smoke Cook Team demonstrates a pit that uses a wagon wheel to adjust the grill. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Ryan Sitton with Second Hand Smoke Cook Team demonstrates a pit that uses a wagon wheel to adjust the grill. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Robin Dawley checks in the meat for the competition. Dawley checked meat for 17 years in past Do Dats. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Robin Dawley checks in the meat for the competition. Dawley checked meat for 17 years in past Do Dats. (Source: KTRE Staff)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Right now, 31 one cooking teams are getting to know one another at a grill party prior to tomorrow's Do Dat BBQ at the Nacogdoches County Exposition Center.  
    
The 23-year tradition died 11 years ago.

Returning Do Dat old-timers have mellowed a bit and are anxious to introduce the popular event to a new generation.

The fires are burning again at the once popular Do BBQ, where smoke over the Nacogdoches Expo Center leads to the aroma of slow-cooked briskets and chicken.

"For once, you can smell something good next to the sale barn," said Ryan Sitton, a cook for the Second Hand Smoke cook team.

It all conjures up memories. Each year, Do Dat would attract 75 teams. Sitton was a kid when Do Dat was at its peak.

"I was more of an assistant than anything," Sitton said. "Keeping everybody in line."

They say what happens at Do Dat stays at Do Dat. An open tap often led to an overindulgence of the spirits.

"Occasionally," a Do Dat participant said with a laugh.

Today, Hank Williams Jr. Would sing that "all the rowdy friends have settled down" for the rebirth of the Do Dat.

"I would like to think it has mellowed out," said Brad Hammack, a cook on the Feed Me BBQ team. It was little hectic back in the day."

"We tightened down on Friday night," said Gary Lee Ashcraft, the United Way's director.

Ashcraft is certain a few rules won't get in the way of having a good time.

"It isn't going to be a beer brawl on the United Way watch," Ashcraft said.

Organizers aren't anticipating any saloon fights at this year's Do Dat, but there will be plenty to eat and drink to make it a good time.

"You're allowed three good 16 oz of beer," Ashcraft said.

The cook teams can have what they can hold, but no sharing.

"It's a marathon and not a sprint," said one Do Dat participant. "It's all about moderation, even if it's a little bit on the high end."

As a result, more attention can be given to the art of Texas barbecue.

"We got big pits, little pits, pits that go around, electric pits," said Kyle Bush, a cook on the Second Hand Smoke team.

"This is about 15 pounds," one cook said in reference to a brisket.

The cooks' secrets won't be revealed, but the same can't be said about the stories from Do Dat pasts.

Unlike past Do Dats, tonight's grill party is not open to the public, but everyone is welcomed tomorrow at the Nac Expo from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $10. Tickets for children ages 5 to 12 are $5.

Sponsor Pilgrim's Pride is anticipating the proceeds will serve United Way Nacogdoches well.

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