Well, I went to the festival on Sunday, decided to skip Saturday's event due to rain.
Honestly, I thought this was a great time. I got to sample some great 'cue. I particularly liked the vinegary Carolina style pulled pork from Thrill on the Grill. I found the Aussie BBQ vendor to be a poor value and overly sauced, but still better than the average backyard BBQ as far as flavor goes. Firefly's was a pleasant suprise, as were others whose names I can not recall. All in all there were about 12-15 vendors set up, and virtually all had some sort of sampler you could pick up for $5-$7. I even asked for an off-menu sampler of pulled pork since I didn't want the whold dinner w/ beans and rice, and the vendor kindly served me up a generous portion for $5. I also tried alligator-- not a great deal at $10 for a bowl of rice topped with grilled onions and peppers, then topped with the alligator meat, but quite good. Doesn't taste anything like chicken, by the way. More like shark if you ask me.
One of the great experiences was the "relish tent" where you could sample any number of relishes, hot sauces, BBQ sauces and rubs. In this tent you could also buy these products. Although some suppliers were offering their sauces at below supermarket prices, some were also greatly marked up. The adjecent Pepper Tent featured People's Choice judging of salsas and hot sauces. You got to procede through a line trying each of these in ascending degrees of heat, voting Good, Very Good, or Excellent for each. Not too many people made it through the hot sauce line having tried all 20 or so. Mad Dog 357 was particularly hot yet flavorful.
It was great to see some of the contestants in the Mass. State BBQ Championship preparing their entries. I would suggest going fairly early if you want to witness this next year, as most of the cooking is done by 2-3 PM. Amazing rigs. People were cooking on everything from Webers to huge trailer-sized multi-chamebered smokers. Lots of great humor among the contestants too. Perhaps I'll sign up next year.
Can't wrap this up without mentioning the great music too. I hadn't been to this event in previous years, but I have read the criticism some people posted and I can only assume the problems have been fixed, since I didn't experience them myself. I strongly recommend this for next year.
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