If you do a lot of reading about BBQ history, you have probably heard of the world's largest barbecue ever held. It was in honor of the January, 1923 inauguration of Oklahoma governor Jack Walton.
Walton put out a call for donations for the barbecue and received an overwhelming response. The Dallas Morning News reported that thousands of cows, hogs, sheep, and chickens plus 103 turkeys, 1,363 rabbits, 26 squirrels, 134 opossums, 113 geese, 34 ducks, 15 deer, 2 buffalo, and 2 reindeer were donated for hundreds of thousands of to people to consume that were expected to attend.
But, to me, the most impressive thing about the barbecue was the part that everyone seems to leave out of the story: the barbecue pit. It was a hole dug in the ground that spanned 1 mile!
Mile-Long Trench Prepared For Inauguration Barbecue;
Cowboy Chef Almost Ready
The Morning Tulsa Daily World - December 28, 1922
"We'll be ready to start cooking meat pretty soon," was the declaration today of I. R. McCann, nationally known cowboy chef, who is in charge of preparing meats for Oklahoma's big barbecue to be held here January 8 at the inauguration of Gov.-Elect J. C. Walton. "You know it takes about 30 hours to barbecue meat properly," McCann explained.
"A mile long trench over which the carcasses will roast was reported complete today and work on emergency houses and tents to house overflow visitors estimated to exceed two hundred thousand are under way," he said.
"It will be the biggest feat in the history of the world of its kind," continued McCann, "and it's going to go off like clock work. On the morning of January 7, there will be more than one thousand carcasses all nice and brown awaiting consumption by the hungry hordes. A trainload of wood is expected in soon and a carload of pepper has been ordered. I'll see the pepper is used with discrimination and there will be a feast of beef like your mother used to cook."
Thirty meat cutters, 1000 waiters, 52 fire handlers and 500 assistant chefs will prepare the feast.