It was the Quilt Museum and an exhibition of black American quilt designs which lured me to Lowell, Mass, this weekend. But it was something else which blew me away.
A BBQ Festival!!! Complete with competition BBQ teams from all over the country. They came with campervans and trailers, tents and simple sleeping bags - and they created a canalside encampment around their marquees, cutting tables and cooking equipment. Huge black smokers, masses of hickory wood, little barbies, Webers of assorted sizes, vast myserious metal boxes with gas cylinders attached...
The cooking scents were just too delicious and one drooled one's way past their competitive ventures, fortunately, able to sample bits now and then if one was lucky enough to pass the judge's marquee when they were putting out the leftovers.
Commercial enterprises were there to fill the bellies properly - and I sampled those famous American ribs and declared them divine. Also braved Fried Dough for the first time - having long been curious. It was strange. Not like a doughnut at all. Pleasant, although way to oily...and not something I would crave again. Once is enough.
But so far as Lowell is concerned, it can never be enough. That is a wonderful town with a vital community spirit and every visit there has been a vibrant delight.