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Reimagined BBQ fest returns this weekend

Andrew Hogan and Amanda Lalone of Syracuse help choose the Best Ribs in the East during the 2016 I Love BBQ and Music Festival. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Since 2006, the I Love BBQ and Music Festival has been attracting competitors from both sides of America’s northern border, but the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to that for the second year in a row. At least there will be a festival this year — from Sept. 3 to 5 at the North Elba Show Grounds — but there won’t be any Canadians.

That’s a significant blow to this event; about one-third of the barbecue competitors usually come from the provinces of Ontario or Quebec, according to festival organizer Dmitry Feld. There are 15 teams this year. In 2019 there were 43, 13 of them from Canada.

But the U.S. recently extended the border closure to non-essential traffic through Sept. 21. And barbecue — according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — is not essential.

Like always, the event will still open with the playing of national anthems from both countries.

Meanwhile, the festival schedule is as full as it was in 2019, but there are some major changes. The venue was changed from the Olympic Speedskating Oval due to reconstruction, and the date was changed from the July Fourth holiday to Labor Day weekend. With the venue change comes the addition of beer sales, which were not allowed at the oval because of the school grounds. Feld said he hopes it will attract more visitors.

A vendor at the 2016 I Love BBQ and Music Festival serves hungry visitors. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

Feld had to get creative in order to keep a BBQ Festival mainstay — the BMX Krusher Stunt Team — based in Montreal. Bike exhibitions are not essential either, so the Canadian riders could not travel to Lake Placid; however, the Krusher team was able to get some Americans to fill in.

Another change for barbecue competitors is the discontinuation of the Northeast Barbecue Society’s Grilling and BBQ Bash contest. That leaves the only major competition for Sunday with the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s contest in four categories: pork ribs, brisket, chicken and pulled pork. This will be the state championships, as Lake Placid is the only KCBS competition in New York state this year, according to the KCBS website.

There will also be some localized barbecue contests on Friday and Saturday. The pulled pork competition (public tasting, pulled pork prepared by competitive teams) will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday (pay $2, get 2 oz. to taste). And the Best Ribs in the East/Buck a Rib contest (public tasting, ribs prepared by competitive teams) will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday (pay $1, get 1 rib). The Quinn Family Barbecue and Hot Sauce Competition will also return, but it is not judged by the public.

Aside from the barbecue, live music will be held in the music tent throughout the weekend, and there are kids’ attractions such as the Coconut Tree and inflatable mountain. Special events include the BMX Krusher Stunt Team exhibitions Saturday and Sunday and a professional wrestling event from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday by the Performance Arts Connection, with stars like Crusher Bigelow (Hardcore Icon) and Scrap Iron (The Iron Man of PAC).

The festival will also include the Olympic Car Show, which is more of a cruise-in than a car show this year. Like the BBQ Festival, the show is usually held on the Olympic Speedskating Oval, so it had to be relocated this year.

Employees from USA Luge — including Feld, who is the marketing manager — organize the I Love BBQ and Music Festival every year as a way to give back to the community. It is the biggest fundraiser for the Shipman Youth Center, and Feld said he hopes to raise between $20,000 and $25,000 this year. USA Luge’s Director of Sponsorships and Marketing Gordy Sheer — a 1998 silver medalist and a drummer — is in charge of the event’s music portion.

Part of the fundraising includes a raffle with a limited number of tickets sold at $50 each. A total of $7,500 will be handed out in a random drawing that will help close the event on Sunday afternoon. The grand prize will be $3,000. To purchase a ticket, log on to www.shipmanyouthcenter.org and press “donate” to purchase a ticket.

The I Love BBQ and Music Festival will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The cost is $6 per person. For more information, visit online at www.ilbbqf.com.

Future events at the oval

It is not clear which, if any, non-winter events will return to the Olympic Speedskating Oval once reconstruction is complete. State Olympic Regional Development Authority CEO Mike Pratt said in March that the majority of work should be finished in time to host the FISU World Speed Skating Championships from March 2 to 6, 2022.

Some of the events that have traditionally been held on the oval are the Lake Placid Marathon and Half (June), I Love BBQ and Music Festival (July), Ironman Lake Placid (July) and Olympic Car Show (Labor Day weekend. The I Love BBQ and Music Festival and Olympic Car Show will be held this weekend at the North Elba Show Grounds, and asked if the event would return to the oval next year, BBQ Fest organizer Dmitry Feld said he’s not sure; he’s heard that vehicles may not be allowed to drive on the new oval surface, which would limit the events held there.

“While we work through the construction phases of the oval, that’s our main priority,” ORDA spokesperson Elise Ruocco said. “We are hopeful to host more events at the upgraded oval. We are building the oval track to be able to travel on.”

That means the oval will be constructed so vehicles can drive on it without harming the surface. Yet there’s also the issue of the grass. Construction will necessitate a reclamation of the lawn inside the oval next year, according to Ruocco.

I Love BBQ Festival schedule

Friday, Sept. 3

11 a.m. — Gates open

All day children’s fun inflatables attractions, food, beverages available to purchase, other vendors.

12:10 pm — Music performance: Mad Dog

1-2 p.m. — Music performance: Wickmore Jazz Trio

2-3 p.m. — Music performance: Ursa and the Major Key

3-4 p.m. — Music performance: JT Cubbanah

3-5 p.m. — Pulled pork competition (public tasting, prepared by competitive teams) $2 for 2 oz.

4-5 p.m. — Music performance: Larry Stone

5-6 p.m. — Music performance: Burning Sage

5-5:40 p.m. — Top chef food presentation by pit master Cameron Symonds

6-7 p.m. — Music performance: Jon Wagar and Nate Pultorak

7-8 p.m. — Music performance: TBA

8 p.m. — Doors close

Saturday, Sept. 4

11 a.m. — Gates open

All day children’s fun inflatable attractions, food, beverages available to purchase, other vendors

11 a.m. — Celebrity judges meeting with Master Judges Linda and Jerry Mullane at the VIP building

Noon – 1 p.m. — Music performance by Crosswinds

1-2 p.m. — Music performance: Scott Sileo

1-3 p.m. — The Best Ribs in the East/Buck a Rib — $1 per rib (public tasting event, prepared by competitive teams)

2-2:20 p.m. — Freestyle BMX bikes Krusher stunt team performance

2:20-3 p.m. — Music performance: Amber in Green

3-4 p.m. — Music performance: Dos En Uno

4-6 p.m. — Performance Arts Connection presents professional wrestling with stars like Crusher Bigelow (Hardcore Icon), Scrap Iron (The Iron Man of PAC) and others

5:30-6 p.m. — Turn in time for Quinn Family Barbecue and Hot Sauce Competition

6:30 p.m. — All teams participating in KCBS competition meet with KCBS master judges at the VIP building

6-6:20 p.m. — Freestyle BMX bikes Krusher stunt team performance

6:20-7 p.m. — Music performance: Roan Yellowthorn

7 p.m. — Award Ceremonies — Pulled pork competition, The Best Ribs in the East, Quinn Family Barbecue and Hot Sauce Competition.

7:20 p.m. — Music performance: Carl Rubino

8 p.m. — Doors Close

Sunday, Sept. 5

9 a.m. — Judges sign-in for KCBS contest, VIP building

10:15 a.m. — Judges for KCBC contest must be in judging area for their seat assignment. You must be present inside the judging area at that time or you will not be seated.

10:30 a.m. — Judges meeting with KCBS Master Judges Lois Weidner and Bob Mckee

11 a.m. — Gates open

All day children’s fun inflatable attractions, food, beverages available to purchase. Other vendors.

11 a.m. – 5 p.m. — Classic car show/cruise-in

11:55 a.m. — Judging begins

Noon – 1 p.m. — Music performance: Pat Duffy

Noon — Chicken turn-in

12:30 p.m. — Ribs turn-in

1 p.m. — Pork butt/ shoulder turn-in

1:30 p.m. — Beef brisket turn-in

1-1:20 p.m. — Freestyle BMX Bikes Krusher stunt team performance

1:20-2 p.m. — Music performance: All Without the Bass

2-3 p.m. — Music performance: TBA

3-4 p.m. — Music performance: Spring Street

4 p.m. — Award ceremonies and raffle drawing: 1st place – Grand Champion $1,500, 2nd place – $1,000, 3rd place – $1,000. Each category $500. Total cash prizes $5,500. ILBBQF Grand Champion and New York State Champion.

Raffle: To purchase tickets $50 each (only 300 tickets sold) visit www.shipmanyouthcenter.org, press donate, purchase ticket and we will send your ticket number.

5 p.m. — Event is over, gates remain open for food sales

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