A group of students from Rosedale Technical College in Kennedy were unsung heroes for a Texas barbecue team participating in the Kickoff and Rib Festival last weekend on the North Shore.
The team from Texas — Enrique Vega and his crew of five, Cowboys BBQ & Rib Co. — finished third at the festival but almost didn’t make it there because a mechanical issue with their trailer left them stranded at a suburban motel. The group competes in events across the country between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
They were enroute to Pittsburgh on Aug. 30 when they lost a wheel on their 20-foot trailer and had to make an emergency stop at the Crafton exit of Interstate 79.
Mr. Vega, general manager of the barbecue company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, said he and his crew spent the night near the Rosedale school, where students study technical training for careers in automotive, diesel, collision repair, electrical, HVAC, industrial technician, truck driving and welding.
“It was a blessing,” he said.
Worried that his group wouldn’t make it to the Heinz Field festival in time, Mr. Vega walked over to the school the next day to see if anyone could assist him in diagnosing the problem.
Students in J.R. Mangan’s diesel technology course answered the challenge. Mr. Vega spent the morning searching for parts and the class members installed a new axle, leaf springs and a new tire— all at no charge. The barbecue team was back on the road within a day’s time.
“This was a great opportunity for our students to do some live work in class,” said Mr. Mangan, who also is a North Fayette supervisor.
“It provided a real-life scenario where we were pressed for time to fix a serious problem. The students worked quickly and efficiently to ensure Mr. Vega could get the ‘low n’ slow’ cooking process started.”
Because the students could not accept cash for their work, Mr. Vega offered to provide them “labor fees” — complementary ribs during the festival. A few of the students took him up on the offer.
“I was never in doubt that it would be done in time,” Mr. Vega said.
“Things happen for a reason, and I was grateful to come across Rosedale Technical College.”
Mr. Vega has been traveling to Pittsburgh-area rib events since 1996. Cowboy BBQ & Rib Co. started offering ribs to Pittsburghers as far back as 1988. The competitors have attended events at South Park, Three Rivers Stadium and now at Heinz Field, where they have several first-place finishes.
The group plans to return next year.
Sonja Reis, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.