Ox pit tradition continues

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Photo by Jeff Pfeil

Jon Forrest and his son, Jakob, 2, man a backhoe while digging the long pit to cook the Ox Roast sandwich meat.

Jakob (Jake) Forrest believes you can never start too young to follow in your father’s footsteps.

The 2-year-old was riding high at his daddy Jon’s knee Sept. 2 as they continued the 42-year family tradition of digging the pit to cook the meat for the West Jefferson Ox Roast’s famous sandwiches. The Ox Roast took place Aug. 31 through Sept. 3.

“Our family has been digging the pit since about 1965,” said Rick Forrest, Jon’s father and Jake’s grandfather. Rick’s father, Ben Forrest, dug the first pits with his son sitting at his side.

“I was probably about 12 when I started helping my dad,’’ Rick said.

Rick’s son, Jon, 34, said he started helping with the pit when he was about 5 years old.

“We use the backhoe to dig the pit and load the wood into the pit,” Jon said.

The work is a natural job for the Forrest family, which owns Buckeye Septic Tank in West Jefferson, a company Ben Forrest started in 1950.

“We do this for a living. It feels good to be able to do this as volunteers for the community,’’ Jon said.

Jake is the youngest member of the family to help with the pit. He celebrated his second birthday on Aug. 25 and spent time riding beside his dad on pit-digging day.

“Jake was really excited to be there helping me. He sat there and kept saying, ‘scoop, dump, scoop, dump,’ ” Jon said.

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