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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: Kentucky BBQ


Jerry Thompson

Jerry Thompson is a lifelong resident of Union County, Kentucky. As a young boy growing up on a farm outside of Morganfield, he recalls attending the annual barbecues at St. Ann’s Catholic Church. Held in August, the barbecue and accompanying carnival was a time for the community to come together before the busy harvest season began. Jerry explains that the tradition died out for a while, but was revived in the 1980s by local farmers, including himself.  Today, the men barbecue thousands of pounds of mutton in an outdoor pit, taking shifts through the night. The women of the church take care of the side dishes and desserts, while children enjoy carnival games. Jerry says of the community-centered fundraiser, “Everybody has got their job and it’s cooperation of families and churches…doing it for the Lord. So it’s a good deal.”

Date of interview:
2009-08-06 00:00

Lisa Powell

Lisa Powell

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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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