For 63 years, the West Jefferson Ox Roast has fed thousands of festival attendees with its trademark roast beef sandwich. Now that the event is 64, it will still feed thousands more over the Labor Day Weekend, Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.
To buy one (or more) of Ox Roast legendary sandwiches, you need to go on Monday.
Where’s the beef?
It’s cooked underground in a time-honored, tradition which renders the beef eye of round — the meat hasn’t been an “ox” in West Jefferson for decades — moist and succulent. It’s piled high on the roll and they’re sold by the thousands.
On Labor Day in West Jefferson, beef is what’s for dinner.
Jeff Pfeil, president of the West Jefferson Association, said the only part of the process which has changed is the time.
“It’s been started earlier so we can serve earlier,” Pfeil said. The pit moves around the area, which has a prehistoric deposit of rock. Pfeil said the rock retains the heat and helps the cooking process.
Before the unearthing of bovine chuck, hours upon hours of events are scheduled to the delight of all members of the family.
New this year is the Ox Clue Hunt, Pfeil said. It’s an attraction for middle school and high school-age children.
“It’s a scavenger hunt on the grounds,” Pfeil said. Contestants pay $10 each and can form a team of four members. Teams are given instructions at 1 p.m., Sunday at the main stage. They follow them to the site of the next clue. But to get the next clue, something special has to be “performed” to actually acquire that next clue.
The winning team shares a grand prize of $100.
No need to look over one’s shoulder if he/she chooses to enter the running of the Ox 5K Run, beginning at 7:30 a.m., Monday, Sept. 1. Unlike Pamplona, Spain the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association’s event will have no bulls chasing the field.
Pfeil said thanks to the Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails, the Ox Roast bicycle ride returns to the festival after a three-year hiatus. It rolls off at 8 a.m., Monday from West Jefferson High School.
“We’re glad to have it back this year,” Pfeil said.
The full schedule can be found online at www.westjefferson.org.
But here are some selected daily highlights:
Saturday, Aug. 30
Noon — The parade with the theme “Rock Star”
5 p.m. — Queen’s contest, Little Miss, Junior Miss, and Miss Ox Roast, main stage
7 p.m. — Watermelon eating contest, main stage
8:30 p.m. — Country artist Tim Omark
* Hurt-Battelle Memorial Library will present “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” at various times interspersed throughout all three days.
** Rides, vendors, crafts and games available throughout all three days.
Sunday, Aug. 31
9 a.m. — Community Worship Service, main stage
3 p.m. — Numania, main stage
5 p.m. — Hot dog eating contest, main stage
5:30 p.m. — Lighting of the pit
5:30 p.m. — The Posse, grandstand
8:30 p.m. — Dance, Garrette Park
8:30 p.m. — Jym Slammer, main stage
Monday, Sept. 1
7:30 a.m. — Running of the Ox 5K, West Jefferson Chiropractic
8 a.m. — Ox Roast Bicycle tour (newly reinstated), West Jefferson high school
11 a.m. — Oxy baby, Oxy sweethearts contest, main stage
11:30 a.m. — Ox Roast sandwich tickets go on sale.
Noon to 6 p.m. — Serving Ox Roast sandwiches, at the sandwich shelter behind main stage
12:30 p.m. — Music Men of London roam the grounds
2 p.m. — Arnett Howard Trio, main stage
5 p.m. — Crossfire, main stage
Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1617 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.