The Surry County Tourism Authority has created the Surry Ground Steak Trail to honor the local tradition of ground-steak sandwiches. A festival is planned for June 10.
A ground-steak sandwich is ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked with some flour to help it hold together, then served on a bun with mayonnaise, slaw and tomato.
Some places serve it on a plate without the bun. Others serve it for breakfast on a biscuit in place of the bun.
The sandwich, similar to the loose-meat sandwich of the Midwest, is believed to have originated during the Great Depression.
“It was an affordable sandwich for blue-collar workers. It quickly spread, and people around the county started enjoying ground steak,” said Travis Frye, the coordinator tourism authority, who came up with the idea of honoring the sandwich with a trail of all the places that still make it.
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The trail includes 11 restaurants where people can get the sandwich.
In Mount Airy, those places are Aunt Bea’s BBQ, Dairy Center, Martha Sue’s, Snappy Lunch and Speedy Chef. Pilot Mountain has three: All Sauced Up BBQ, Aunt Bea’s BBQ and Cousin Gary’s. Dobson has Central Café and Rockford General Store, and Elkin has Speedy Chef.
“It’s a soft, tender type of meat, and it does kind of melt in your mouth,” said Freddy Hiatt, who bought the Dairy Center in the 1990s. Hiatt learned to make the sandwich from Gene Fleming, who opened the Dairy Center in 1954.
“You can eat it without a lot of heavy chewing,” Hiatt said. “Some people use ground chuck. We use the ground beef with higher fat to get a better flavor, a better taste. That’s what we’ve done all the years I’ve been here, and Gene did the same.”
The North Carolina Ground Steak Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 10 in downtown Dobson.
For the festival, Dobson’s Central Café and the Flat Rock Ruritan Club will prepare ground steak sandwiches. The festival also will include live bluegrass and old-time string music, children’s games and activities, and more than 50 artisans and craft vendors.
For more information, visit www.GroundSteakTrail.org.