LAKE PLACID - Few things are more American than barbecue, so the Fourth of July was a fitting kick-off to the eighth annual I Love BBQ Fest Thursday.
Organizers said they were pleased with the first day of the event. An afternoon downpour drove crowds away from the site on the Olympic Speedskating Oval, but not for long. After Lake Placid's Fourth of July parade wrapped up, people again filed into the fairgrounds and checked out the live music, stunt BMX bikers, kids' games and food.
The first day of the event included the High Peaks Ford Grilling Bash, in which participants grilled a New York strip steak, chicken, a sausage fatty (basically sausage without the skin, but it can take a number of different forms) and pizza. That contest was a New England Barbecue Society competition. Today will feature the I Love BBQ Junior World Championships, and Saturday is the big one: the Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned competition.
Members of Make ’Em Squeal, a barbecue team from Thetford Center, Vt., gives a visitor a taste of their maple-chipotle-flavored pulled pork Thursday afternoon in the I Love BBQ Fest Pulled Pork People’s Choice Award competition.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Vince DuBois performs an acoustic set of Beatles' tunes Thursday afternoon on the first day of I Love BBQ Fest.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
The teams participating in the barbecuing competitions mostly cook for themselves and the judges, but the people's choice awards give festival-goers a chance to try out each team's cooking prowess.
Thursday started out with the Pulled Pork People's Choice Awards. People paid $3 for a 2-ounce sample of pulled pork and voted on their favorite ones.
Dave Rose, of central Massachusetts, has been coming to ILBBQF since the first one, and he said it's nice to have the audience choice competitions because it gives competitors a chance to make a few dollars back, though he noted they're not exactly getting rich off of it.
Rose said his trick for a good audience-choice pulled pork is making sure it's juicy and melts in your mouth. That can be achieved through a number of means, like adding broth to it, he said.
"When people eat it, you want them to go, 'Wow, this is juicy,'" Rose said.
That's different from competition. Judges would call his moist pulled pork overcooked, he said.
"Everyone has their own idea what it should be," Rose said.
He said he has been going to barbecue competitions for about 10 years, and he enjoys Lake Placid's.
"It's a fun event," Rose said. "They do a lot of great things here. The cause is a good cause."
All the proceeds from the festival benefit the Shipman Youth Center.
Head organizer Dmitry Feld said he was happy with the turnout for the pulled pork competition.
He noted the other people's choice competition is the Best Ribs in the East People's Choice Award, which runs today from 1 to 3 p.m., and he hopes to see a lot of people for that one as well.
"One o'clock," Feld said. "Be there."
His right-hand woman Liz DeFazio said she is looking forward to today's junior world competition. It includes two age classes, 10-15 and 16-21, and kids compete for potential scholarships.
"That's the one I'm really excited about," DeFazio said.
A steady stream of bands played throughout the day Thursday, starting with Lucid and including performances by Third Shift, a newer local band made up of several members of the now-defunct Professor Chaos; Loud and Stupid, a punk-style band that includes BBQ Fest organizer Gordy Sheer on drums; and a closing performance by Lost Dog.
The event also has a number of kid's activities, including professional face painting, a string of inflatable bouncy houses, water slides and obstacle courses, a necklace-making station sponsored by Price Chopper, and a mechanical bull.
I Love BBQ Fest continues today and Saturday. Tickets are $6 and kids 10 and under get in for free.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.