Here’s What Went Down At Sad Papaw’s BBQ

He’s definitely not sad anymore.

So by now you’ve probably heard about Papaw (whose real name is Kenneth Harmon), the grandfather from Oklahoma whose sad photo last week spread across social media like wildfire.


His granddaughter Kelsey Harmon took the pic when his other grandkids didn’t show up for dinner after he made them burgers.

You also probably knew that a few days after his viral photo, he and another of his grandkids, Brock Harmon, decided to host a cookout for all the people who were moved by the story.


The Harmons invited literally everyone to enjoy one of Papaw’s burgers or to buy an “I ate a burger with Sad Papaw” T-shirt near the family’s flea market in Purcell, Oklahoma.

Well, BuzzFeed News went to the cookout on Saturday afternoon. Here’s what you need to know about what went down.

1. First of all, not all of his grandkids were there…again.

Tamerra Griffin / BuzzFeed News

Let’s get this out of the way early. While five of Papaw’s (which rhymes, by the way, with “Nassau”) six grandchildren made it to the cookout, Kelsey — the only one who showed up to the initial get-together — is a college softball player and had a game conflict.

“We thought about making a joke about the fact that she couldn’t come,” Papaw said, “but given the way my story’s blown up, we decided not to go down that road again.”

2. But that didn’t stop others from making the trip out to the family event.

Tamerra Griffin / BuzzFeed News

After reading Papaw’s story on Facebook, Tania O’Hara and her 10-year-old daughter Delaney decided to make the seven-hour drive from their hometown in San Antonio to meet him.

“The only thing we discussed was how far away it was,” Delaney said.

“We got here at 11 and there were already lines, and lots of people,” Tania added. “Everything was already in full swing.”

3. Seriously. Some people drove really far for this.

Tamerra Griffin / BuzzFeed News

Dan Schwartz, 28, told BuzzFeed News he drove seven hours from St. Louis, Missouri, for the cookout.

His friends Ryan Gottfried and Kate Nelsen, 32 and 29, respectively, made a 12-hour road trip from Maplewood, Minnesota.

“Our friends and co-workers were confused when we told them we were going,” Nelsen said. “They thought we were joking.”

Others drove 18 hours from Mississippi and 21 hours from Los Angeles.

4. What I’m trying to say is: Papaw is kind of a big deal now.

Tamerra Griffin / BuzzFeed News

Cookout attendees told BuzzFeed News they waited as long as 45 minutes in line just to take a photo with him, and Allegiant airlines presented him and his family with an all-expenses-paid trip to Florida at the cookout.

5. The crowds may be due, in part, to the fact that he reminds people so much of their own families.

Tamerra Griffin / BuzzFeed News

Ellen Engh (center), Caleb Cash (second from left), and Nicole Doherty (left) told BuzzFeed News that they had each lost a grandparent in the past year and jumped at the opportunity to spend time with someone else’s.

“We only live about 50 minutes away, so it’s not that far,” Engh said.

They also said that despite the mass production of the burgers — the Harmons ordered about 2,000 patties — they were surprised by how good they were.

“The hamburgers are the best I’ve ever had,” Doherty said.

6. Speaking of the burgers…the line to get them was even longer than the one to get a selfie with Papaw.

Tamerra Griffin / BuzzFeed News

7. But it was all completely justified, because they were bomb.

THE PAPAW BURGER 🍔👴🏼

— Tamerra Griffin (@tamerra_nikol)

The secret, according to the man himself, lies in the seasoning and the temperature of the meat when it’s thrown onto the grill.

9. The Harmon family isn’t too concerned about the controversial comments stirred up by Papaw’s sad photo.

Tamerra Griffin / BuzzFeed News

Brock Harmon, Papaw’s 20-year-old grandson, who went to eat burgers with him shortly after the first picture went viral, told BuzzFeed News that the focus of the cookout was to bring people together.

“We’re having this cookout to show everybody what kind of family we are,” he said.

He also confirmed that all of the profits from Papaw’s $2 burgers, hot dogs, bratwursts (of which they sold more than 2,000), and $16 “I ate a burger with Sad Papaw” T-shirts (of which they sold more than 1,300) will go directly to Papaw.

“He’s going to do whatever he wants to do with it,” he said.

10. In fact, this is the happiest Papaw has been in a long time.

Tamerra Griffin / BuzzFeed News

His daughter, Aclynn (not pictured), told BuzzFeed news that despite the craziness involved in planning and carrying out the BBQ, she’s never seen him happier.

Papaw said he only expected about 400 or 500 people to show. More than 1,500 did.

11. Aww, Papaw

12. Watch what went down at Sad Papaw’s BBQ here:

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tamerra Griffin at tamerra.griffin@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

More News

More News

Now Buzzing