Monthly Archives: April 2010

Barbecue Pit BBQ at Our 2nd Annual Kentucky Derby Party in Naperville

It’s impossible to imagine that the first Saturday in May is just days away when the memories from our Kentucky Derby Party last year seems just like yesterday. To catch everyone else up who didn’t read my posts last year, I’m originally from Kentucky and grew up amidst the wonderful bluegrass rite of spring tradition of the pomp and circumstance behind the annual Run for the Roses, which is more famously known as the Kentucky Derby.

For our guests, this year’s menu will be similar to last, with one major difference… instead of Keene’s Country Ham from Bardstown, KY on Derby Breakfast biscuits, I’ve made the family recipe of slow smoked pork bbq which spent all of yesterday on my firebox grill cooking slowly on heated waves of hickory, white oak, apricot, peach and apple wood smoke. Additionally, I’ve kicked the family bbq sauce recipe up a number of notches to create three variations: A sweet and smokey bourbon sauce, the regular sauce and a little hot-and-spicy wonder which I will simply refer to as “Sucker Punch” sauce. Sucker Punch is one of those fun bbq sauces that taste zesty and benign at first, but within a couple of seconds the beads of sweat begin to form.

When I say “family bbq recipe” it is not only a recipe I grew up on but also one which set my father’s restaurant venture in motion many years ago in the late 1970s.  A place simply called “The Barbecue Pit”. The space was literally built from the ground up and I still have memories of dropping by the building after school as it was being built. The Barbecue Pit was simple and bare with picnic tables on concrete floors assembled near an old pot-belly stove. Across the counter was an enormous smoker pit, which I recall looking almost sinister from my vantage point as a young child. Like many restaurants, The Barbecue Pit ran into its share of business problems demonstrating the truth that it takes more than a great food product to succeed in the business. Nonetheless, the recipe has survived and for my part, this generation continues to retain the fundamentals while at the same time welcoming some slight innovations.

My dad passed away in 2001, yet every time I fire up my own barbecue pit, working the fire, smelling the wood aroma, making the mop sauce, the bbq sauce, basting every hour, feeding in soaked wood chunks and sneaking a little piece of the outer layer bark toward the end from one of the 6-7 lb. Boston Butts (better known as Pork Shoulder), it’s not only a tribute to one of his lifelong passions, but I almost feel as though he is standing there right next to me with that satisfying smile on his face. While some see bbq simply as food, I come from a place where it is both a conversation-drenched pastime and proud tradition.

Maybe one day we can throw this party for all of Naperville for charity. Until then, we look forward to greeting our invited guests on Saturday and sharing in a Mint Julep, a BBQ sandwich and, of course, a few horse races along the way.

Pit-O-Pat, The Barbecue Pit Mascot


Glennette Tilley Turner Brings the Illinois Underground Railroad to Life at 2010 African American Heritage Festival in Naperville

“Heritage” is a word that is not only at the fabric and meaning of our existence, but one which carries with it tales of tradition and tragedy which are meant to never be forgotten as future generations inherit this Earth, this country and our community.

The inaugural 2010 African American Heritage Festival, which took place at the NCC Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center last weekend, was certainly an occasion worthy of joyful celebration, insightful reflection and meaningful connections.  Based upon my own experience in attending the festivities on Saturday and meeting the amazing people behind this event, my resolve to bring the larger community into the experience of this Festival was solidified.

To those who could not attend, below is a small piece of what you missed… an audio and still photo composite of author Glennette Tilley Turner talking about her own life and the Freedom Seeker’s travels through the Naperville portion of the Illinois Underground Railroad.  The video also includes an audio interview with the Festival’s Originator, Osie B. Davenport, on the story behind the Festival.

Turner’s warm soul and lifelong inquisitive curiosity has resulted in a number of books for all ages, including:  “An Apple for Harriet Tubman” (childrens book), “The Underground Railroad in Illinois”, “Running for Our Lives”, “Journeys in Courage – On the Underground Railroad”.

In addition, she is about to release a new book, entitled “Fort Mose” about the small island off the coast of St. Augustine, FL which was founded nearly a century before the Emancipation Proclamation and became the earliest settlement of emancipated slaves in our country.

I encourage you to buy these books, share these important stories with your family and make a plan to retrace the steps of the Underground Railroad in Naperville and our surrounding areas.  You can find out more about Glennette Tilley Turner and order her books at:

If you missed the African American Heritage Festival this year, I highly recommend that you make plans to attend next year as this is both an important event and opportunity for our community to come together, connect with each other and to explore and celebrate the unique richness of the lives, culture and history that surrounds us.

In the end, the contribution of grant money to support these enriching events is lost without the contribution of time, attention and participation by our community.  Even more, there is an amazing personal and societal reward to be gained when we travel outside of ourselves to build a deeper connection with what is the truest and most meaningful wealth within our community… our relationships with each other.   SM

Don’t Miss Naperville’s African American Heritage Festival On April 16-17

The true richness of any society can only be measured by its depth of cultural appreciation, understanding and celebration of diverse traditions.  The more we engage and explore our unique differences, the more we learn about ourselves and the common bond we share together as one human race.

While we live in the “backyard” of what I consider to be the most celebrated culturally diverse city in the country, our very own community is blessed with a level of diversity that sometimes gets overlooked.

This weekend, thanks to the African American Leadership Roundtable and Naperville’s SECA grant program, our community will have the opportunity to join together in an exciting celebration of African American Heritage at the 2010 African American Heritage Festival.  The Festival will take place on April 16-17 at the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center at North Central College.

Below you will find the schedule of events:

Friday, April 16

Liturgical Dance Fitness Session (4 – 6:00p.m.)
Festival Kick-Off & Welcome Reception (6:00 p.m.)
William H. Bigham Galleries Art Showcase (6 – 9:00 p.m.)
Glennette Tilley Turner Book signing (6:00 p.m.)
The Dreamers Wax Museum of African American History
(Encore Exhibit) (6:30 – 8:00 p.m.)
Called 2 Dance Performance* (8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, April 17

William H. Bigham Galleries Art Showcase (10 a.m. – 9 p.m.)
Liturgical Dance Workshops – $20 Fee (10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.)
New Branch Theatre Company ( 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon)
ACT-SO Exhibits (12 noon – 5:00 p.m.)
ACT-SO Showcase Performances (1:30 – 3:30 p.m.)
Community Mass Choir Workshop – $20 Fee (4:00 p.m.)
African American History Workshop with Glennette Tilley Turner ( 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.)
Gospel Fest Musical Concert* featuring The Community Mass Choir & Grammy Winner Darius Brooks (7:00 p.m.)

To learn more, visit the event website at: