It began last Friday evening with an epic meal, and concluded after a Saturday chock full of memories. And I’m here to tell you, it was a 28-hour stretch that couldn’t have happened the same way anywhere but in Texas County, Mo.

At about 6 p.m. Friday, my wife Wendy served me up a meal highlighted by grilled pork that I wanted to keep eating well after it was gone. Other than being cooked on a Weber grill rather pan fried or baked, the key to its flavor was two fold: The pig was of local stock and the meat was coated with sesame oil.

Thick, juicy and tender. Yum.

Saturday began slowly, as I tinkered around outside and generally enjoyed another nice summer morning. What with horses, chickens, a donkey and a dog to spend time around, I don’t need much else to be happily occupied at our remote Texas County high country outpost.

But as afternoon rolled around, Wendy and I readied ourselves and our little Corgi, Gertie (the Permapup), for a trip to the BARn. That’s the one at the Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus (a.k.a. Brewcyrus) that has been converted by Brian and Joleen Durham into both a place where dandy craft beer is crafted and one where fans of said libation can gather on Saturdays and enjoy good company a good pint or two.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

As we typically do when we trek to the BARn, we brought snacks and Yahtzee. I won’t go into how the age-old dice game works, but for the many of you who already know, I got smoked three straight times in a deluge of Yahtzees as I worked on a McKinney Eddy Amber Ale.

While I did little to keep pace, Wendy posted scores in the 400s in each of the first two games (and you Yahtzee veterans know how rare that is). The sweep was complete after game three, as I limped home with a lame score of about a buck fifty.

The whole time, Gertie does what she does at the BARn, walking calmly around visiting people at other tables, stepping behind the bar to see if she could offer any assistance, or lying in a prone position so as to exude maximum cuteness and spur as many smiles as possible.

At about 6 p.m., we had purposed to leave. But the stay extended when a friend showed up. Not long after that, we moved from the inside area to a picnic table on the BARn’s large deck where a group of people from the Hartville area were hanging out.

In no time, highly spirited and engaging conversation broke out over glasses of Black Walnut Wheat and Missouri Mule India Pale Ale. It was awesome.

The hosts were gracious as the talking went overtime, and didn’t kick anyone out even though we were there well past the standard 7 p.m. closing time. When we finally did leave, as we passed Highway Z, Wendy and I decided to follow the big pink pig sign to the annual McCoy hog roast.

Good decision, as another several hours of classic Texas County fun ensued.

Once we arrived at Granny Lane (I think it’s called), we were amazed at the number of cars, RVs and tents we could see. And when we parked and started walking toward where all the people were, we were even more amazed at what we saw.

It was basically a huge party, with a band, a dance floor surrounded by strings of lights, and row upon row of benches and chairs full of people. The players on the stage at “The Shed” were host Garold McCoy and the South 63 Band, who laid down a great set of country and hillbilly tunes as dancers ranging from old ladies to young bucks moved about the floor in every way imaginable way, doing everything from seemingly rehearsed line dances to flopping around on the ground with feet and hands pointed skyward and shaking.

Meanwhile, a long line of tables stood nearby covered with a gigantic food spread, including an entire pig whose life had ended for the purpose of becoming a fantastically succulent entree for hundreds of God’s top Earthly life forms. Dang, I’ve never had pig melt in my mouth quite that way. And the beans in the huge cast iron cauldron – wow, what flavor.

Naturally, Gertie and the few other dogs that were lucky enough to be on the scene also benefited greatly from the pig’s ultimate sacrifice. It’s always easy to tell when Gertie has food in her possession that she feels is better than average.

As for the whole event, I can’t begin to express how impressed I was realizing that Garold and his wife open it to the public each year. There were McCoys and McCoy kin from all over in attendance, but Wendy and I also saw several other “party crashers” like ourselves who we had just seen at the BARn (in fact, one guy asked who won at Yahtzee; that answer was clear).

Thanks McCoys for putting together such a fine gathering. Now that we know how good y’all are at having fun, we’ll be back – Lord willing.

Finally, my wife and I and the dog headed home at about 10:30 p.m. or so. But just to top off the day’s fun, we had to avoid hitting a critter on Highway 17 east of Houston.

Nothing unusual about that, right?

On the contrary – it was a porcupine. I’ve known they’re out there, but that was the first one we’ve seen like that.

Craft brew in the middle of nowhere, outdoor dancing, great pig and a prickly jaywalker. All in 28 hours, and all in Texas County.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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