Jim’s Famous Pulled Pork BBQ Leaves Behind a Tasty Legacy At Evansville’s Fall Festival
Who is Jim, and what makes his BBQ so special? Well, I'd love to tell you.
A Red Booth With a Special Item
For the past 2+ decades down at the Fall Festival, every year sits a bright red booth in front of Old National Bank. This booth is a fundraising opportunity for St. Pauls's Episcopal Church in Evansville. The booth is usually number 30, and it has signs all over it boasting that it serves "Jim's Famous Pulled Pork Sandwich." So who is Jim, and what makes his BBQ pulled pork so special?
Jim's Famous Pulled Pork Sandwich
If you look at the photo on the door of booth 30 you'll see a photo of Jim and Shirley Hager, and it's labeled "the original smokers." This photo is extra special to me because it is of my grandparents. To the world, they are Shirley and Jim, but to me, they are Nana and Book-ie (for some reason that's the name I gave my grandpa when I was younger and it just stuck, so just go with it haha)!
I don't remember exactly which year it was, but I know it was the early 2000s, my grandpa began smoking pork butts for St. Paul's to sell at the Fall Festival. He even came up with his own special sauce, which is like a sweet and savory BBQ, that is SO SO good!
I don't want to give away too many of the church's Fall Fest secrets, but I do remember when I was younger my grandpa had his "smoking days" leading up to the Fall Festival, and on those days he would have dozens of pounds of pork on the smoker, and we'd usually stop by and bring him lunch because he couldn't leave the house when the smoker was going. Here is a photo of him getting the meat Fall Festival ready in 2016:
He has since passed the torch on as St. Paul's resident "smoker" and taught his trade secrets to a member of the church who now handles getting the pork smoked and the sauce made for the Fall Festival each year (and Robin it tastes JUST like my grandpa always cooked)!
A Life of Service and a Delicious BBQ Legacy
This year the Fall Festival is a little bit bittersweet as this is the first year my grandpa isn't around for it. My grandpa passed away in January of this year. I come from a very close-knit family, and losing him has been really hard on all of us. His funeral was held at the very church he volunteered with and attended for many years, and when talking about my grandpa's life Priest Holly said "Jim lived a life of service, service to his country, service to his church, and service to his family" and she could not have been more right.
Below is a photo of my grandparents working at the Fall Festival booth in 2013.
If you need me, I'll be grabbing a pulled pork BBQ sandwich at booth 30, because it tastes just like my grandpa made it. I know he was so proud to be involved with St. Paul's Fall Festival booth, and I know he would be so honored to know that his legacy of delicious pulled pork BBQ with his secret sauce is living on. If you decide to give it a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
He was a really, really good cook and I miss him a lot.