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Virginia Police Benevolent Association Brunswick Stew, 1913.
Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

In the sweltering heat of July 30, 1913, throngs of Virginians passed through the open gates of the State Fair Grounds in Richmond, Virginia, to attend the festivities hosted by the Police Benevolent Association. Ticket sales set a new record for the annual event in only its eighth year.

Illustration courtesy Library of Congress.
The night before, one of Virginia's most famous Brunswick stew cooks Jack Sale was directing his stew crew while they cooked 500 gallons of Virginia-style stew all night to be served to the hungry crowd the next day. Among its ingredients was 400 pounds of chicken, 100 pounds of beef, 30 pounds of Smithfield bacon, 200 dozen ears of corn, 250 quarts of butter beans, 15 bushels of tomatoes, 12 bushels of potatoes, 1 barrel of onions, 3 bushels of peppers, 2 bushels of herbs, 50 pounds of butter and 5 gallons of sherry wine. Other ingredients were added but Sale refused to share the details.

By the time the sun went down, there was not a single drop of stew left in the huge kettle. Wrestling matches, boxing matches, motorcycle races, card games and club swinging rounded out the festivities. The Times Dispatch reported, "From 11 o'clock . . . until nearly dark it was a grand frolic. Throughout the day there were no indications of disorder, and the utmost good-fellowship prevailed on all sides."

You can read much more about Virginia's Brunswick stew and its amazing history in Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition available at bookstores and online booksellers.

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