OUTDOORS

'This is a day I look forward to'

'Barbecue Ed' has been feeding Rodeo staff for 15 years

Tina Harbuck
tharbuck@thedestinlog.com

Just like one expects the leaves in the fall to eventually turn orange or golden brown — the Destin Fishing Rodeo workers expect “Barbecue Ed” to sooner or later make an appearance with a couple of tins filled with racks of ribs.

And on Wednesday Ed Hartwig of Miramar Beach didn’t disappoint.

Around 3 p.m. with tins in hand, Hartwig showed up at the Rodeo with ribs tender enough to pull apart by hand.

“This is a day I look forward to every year,” said Rodeo chairman John Brashears as he was feeding his face.

“I enjoy doing it, I enjoy cooking,” said Hartwig, who has been showing up at the Rodeo for the past 15 years to feed the workers. “I got to know Helen and the Rodeo and you guys that work so hard down here and have so much. So heck … here I am.”

And the Rodeo staff is more than happy to see him coming.

“I can’t wait every year,” said Rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves. “They are extremely good. It ain’t chicken but it’s finger lickin’ good.”

As for Miss Destin Ellen Brown, it was her first time to experience the barbecue feast.

“This is the best day at the Rodeo,” she said as she pulled a couple of ribs apart while trying not to get her Miss Destin sash dirty.

Hartwig, a Cincinnati native, said he cooks the ribs for the Rodeo every year at the same time he cooks for a cat benefit.

He said he throws about seven or eight more slabs in the water smoker for the Rodeo crew.

“I’ve been cooking for a long time,” Hartwig said.

He spent his life in sports medicine in Ohio.

“Then this became a hobby, then it became a business and it was about to kill me,” Hartwig said of cooking barbecue. “So I retired and came down here and look what I’m doing. I’m still cooking.”

Nevertheless, Hartwig said he loves it down at the Rodeo.

“They are always so nice to me and I love the camaraderie of the Rodeo," he said. "So I just contributed a little bit in my own way.”

Click to listen

The Fishing Report with The Ships Chandler and Tina Harbuck