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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Georgia BBQ


Ellen Caston Brewer, Michael Brewer, George Barber & David Barber

Fresh Air Bar-B-Que

Dr. Joel Watkins, a veterinarian, opened Fresh Air Bar-B-Que in 1929 to serve the rabbits and goats he raised and barbecued on the weekends. Dr. Watkins never cooked pork. George “Toots” Caston, a fifth-generation native of Jackson, introduced pork when he bought the place in 1952. He could fit nineteen whole hogs on the original pit and made Brunswick stew in twenty-five-gallon cast iron pits. After more than forty years in the barbecue business, George passed away in 1996 at the age of eighty-nine.

Today, the third generation of the Caston family is at the helm, and they are proud of what their grandfather created. As George Barber, one of Toot’s grandsons puts it, “It’s something he instilled in us as children growing up, to have pride in what you did and to do the best job you could do at anything, no matter what it was.”

In 1989, the family opened a second location in Macon, Georgia, but loyal customers and barbecue lovers still make the pilgrimage to the original Fresh Air Bar-B-Q in Jackson.

Date of interview:

Amy C. Evans, SFA Oral Historian

Amy C. Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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