Lexington restaurant owners gear up for BBQ festival amid staff and supply shortages

LEXINGTON, NC (WGHP) — The Lexington Barbecue Festival is back this year.

Although it could take months, the organizers are already preparing in order to have enough food, supplies and personnel to organize the event.

Restaurant owners tell FOX8 they have enough people to cover their restaurants, but need lots of volunteers to help out with the festival. They want to make sure this huge event happens after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic.

“We’re trying to figure out how this day is going to work for all of us,” Bar-BQ Center owner Cecil Conrad said. “It may look a little different from our end, but we will always try to deliver a great product for everyone.”

Bar-BQ Center is almost full which is a world of difference from this time last year. For the 38th Lexington Barbecue Festival, he will need an additional 40-50 people to serve the crowd.

“We’re bringing an additional 200,000 people into town at different times over three days, so we need to be able to cover shifts to cover that number of people,” he said.

People are not the only problem. Conrad said that every week there was a different item he struggled to find.

“Paper products come out at different times,” he said. “We had shortages of bread packaging. We struggled to get different types of bread. At one point the pork was missing.

These barbecue industry staples are especially important to the festival when people grab food and stroll around to enjoy the vendors and live music.

“The prices are terrible,” said Lee Dunn, owner of Speedy’s BBQ. “All supplies have doubled and tripled.”

Dunn has the same fight. You’ll get a taste of it when you head to Uptown Lexington on October 22 for the BBQ Festival. Some restaurants raise their prices by up to 10%.

“The cost of food is higher,” Conrad said. “The cost of gas is higher, so it’s all going to be reflected in how we have to operate.”

Owners are also considering limiting the items they offer in their tents and getting creative with how they serve them.

“It can be anything from barbecue to whatever we serve it on, including bread and even platters,” Conrad said. “Please come. Expect some fun. But things will be a little different on our end.

The owners ask that you be patient with them as they deal with these shortages.

Either way, they’re ready to make the 38th Barbecue Festival in Uptown Lexington one of the best.

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