One phenomenon about the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market is that the scent of the market transforms from season to season. An aromatic amalgamation of Sequim’s most spectacular creations, its notes are often bright with freshly harvested herbs and crisp vegetables and lush with leather and wood.
This season, a distinctive warming base note is present in the air throughout the market, one that conjures feelings of warm summer days spent laughing with friends — you guessed it! It’s barbecue smoke.
That delicious smell curling above the tents each Saturday comes directly from the smoker at Shultz Smokehouse where Kansas City-styled, slow-cooked meats are attentively smoked to perfection by Steve Shultz and Alexis Lobdell.
Kansas City-style barbecue is a regional specialty. While the duo says that there are many features that make the style their favorite, the hallmarks of the distinct style come down to two things: smoky, sweet and tangy, tomato-based sauces and the heart of the community that surrounds it.
“Growing up in the Midwest, it’s not just the meal; it’s the experience,” Shultz says. “During the summer in Kansas City, you’d drive down any given neighborhood on a Friday night and every other house is having a barbecue with all their friends and family over.
“You go. You see the smoker. You hang out for five or six hours, chat, play yard games, and have drinks. The food part only comes into it at the very end. Barbecue creates a family atmosphere.”
Says Lobdell, “Kansas City is really the standard for barbecue: the main barbecue competition circuit is named for Kansas City.”
It’s certainly safe to say Shultz and Lobdell are passionate barbecue appreciators. Both raised in Kansas City, Shultz smoked Lobdell a meal for their first date.
“It was like, a nice dinner with candles and stuff!” Lobdell says, laughing.
After more than 20 years in Kansas City, the couple decided to head west with ambitions of working for the Olympic National Park, and you can bet a new smoker was one of the first things they acquired as they reached their new stomping grounds.
Shultz and Lobdell say sharing barbecue with the new friends they met helped create a foundation for social connection in their new home.
“Barbecue always lends a sense of community wherever you go,” Lobdell says.
Fast forward a few years, Shultz and Lobdell can be found creating community every Saturday at the market with the tiniest pitmaster on their crew in tow — their son, Wesley, age 4, who joins them at every market.
The three of them anchor the family-run barbecue business, utilizing the market as grounds to navigate the adventurous route of early venture entrepreneurs.
History of barbecue
Shultz says barbecue’s origination stems from the large cattle drives that would move through Kansas.
“We always say, barbecue really started at farmers markets,” Lobdell says. “The farmers would need something to take home to their families and there would be people at the markets slow cooking meat that was driven across the prairies.”
Having observed the red-lining systems — the illegal, discriminatory practice of denying financial and other services to residents of certain areas based on their race or ethnicity — still present in Kansas City, Shultz and Lobdell acknowledge that barbecue has roots dating back to the pre-Civil War era where enslaved African-American people had a defining influence in its development.
Shultz and Lobdell encourage barbecue fans to learn more about black barbecue masters such as Arthur Bryant whose restaurant remains an integral part of the Kansas City barbecue community.
What’s on the menu?
For the summer, Shultz Smokehouse’s main menu includes a smoked chicken wrap, sausage burnt ends and smoked baby back ribs.
The smokehouse also has each of its sauces for sale: Hickory Molasses, Summer Ale (featuring a hazy IPA) and Sweet and Spicy (their signature wing sauce.)
For breakfast, overnight oats are featured, complete with house-made hickory salted caramel, market berries, and cinnamon roasted pecans (roasted on-site from fellow market vendor, D’s Nuts.)
Guests can also enjoy a barbecue-themed desert: smoked cream cheese with hickory salted caramel sauce and molasses shortbread cookies on the side.
Rounding out the offerings is organic lemonade, hand-made with local fireweed honey.
The smokehouse looks forward to filling larger orders for groups, which can be arranged by contacting them ahead of time via email.
Shultz and Lobdell say they aim to replicate the Kansas City backyard barbecue feel for the community of Sequim.
“That atmosphere of making friends and everyone hanging out and talking around the smoker, that’s what we’re looking to create at the market,” Shultz says. “Every week we have two or three families who are from Kansas City or Missouri or somewhere around that area and they get so excited to see us.”
“Food is just so much a part of the human experience. It’s very bonding,” Lobdell says. “I love when people come back to us and say, ‘This tastes just like home.’”
For pre-orders, Shultz Smokehouse can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shultz Smokehouse is at the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. through October. Visit your community market at Sequim Civic Center Plaza at North Sequim Avenue and West Cedar Street.
Be sure to tune in on Thursday at 4 p.m. to KSQM 91.5 FM for the live radio “Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Update.”
Emma Jane Garcia is the director of the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.
Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market
Open: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 30
Location: Sequim Civic Center Plaza and Centennial Place, downtown Sequim
More info: email@example.com
On the web: sequimmarket.com