News Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID — Forty five teams made up of barbecue masters and junior competitors will smoke out the Olympic Oval July 2-4 during the I Love BBQ Festival (ILBBQF), which is gearing up for its fifth year.
“This is our biggest year ever,” said event coordinator Dmitry Feld. “There will ne plenty of food, music, rides for the kids and quality barbecue — it’s going to be a blast.”
With more than 20 local business sponsoring the event and volunteers coming out of the woodwork, Feld said he couldn’t believe the amount of community support for the festival.
“I’m just flabbergasted by the way this event is received,” Feld said. “Everyone seems to come together and we’re very proud that we brought a major U.S. food competition to Lake Placid.”
Feld also said it was a great opportunity for the board members and children of the Thomas Shipman Youth Center, a local non-profit that receives proceeds from the festival.
“This is by far our biggest fundraising event of the year,” said Feld, who is also president of the Shipman Youth Center board. “This type of thing doesn’t happen often, where all the board members and children meet together, so it’s very nice.”
In the first four years of the event, nearly $75,000 was raised to support the youth center. The money goes toward supplies, after-school sports, art programs and field trips, according to Feld.
“We’ve raised a lot of money in the past for this incredible cause,” he said. “Last year we had a very rainy weekend, so we were a bit down, but this year, we’re going for the record.”
Feld said about 15 to 20 children who regularly utilize the Shipman Youth Center helped with last year’s festival, selling food and soda and working at the children’s attractions.
“I’ve really noticed how much of a community event this has become,” said Jon Fremante director of the Shipman Youth Center. “And it all benefits the youth center, which is great.”
The ILBBQF will kick off with the $1,000 High Peaks Ford Midnight Grillin’ Bash Friday night.
On Saturday, youth and junior teams will square off for the title of the I Love Barbecue Junior World Champion, followed by the People’s Choice Award competition (the Best Ribs in the East, also known as Buck-A-Rib, which is one of the most popular parts of the festival.
The rib event is held in memory of BBQ Festival supporter Mike Grudzinskas, from Barre, Mass., who passed away unexpectedly last year.
More than 25 professional barbecue teams from the United States and Canada will battle from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday for the rib event. Patrons can purchase one rib from all the teams.
During last year’s event, more than 7,000 ribs were sold in a span of two and half hours. Event organizers are hoping that teams will sell close to 10,000 ribs. The teams menus will offer the entire gamut of ribs: hot, sweet, Memphis, Kansas, Texas and other special styles.
The event concludes Sunday, July 4, when the top barbecue teams from around the country and Canada compete for $7,500 and the title of ILBBQF Grand Champion and New York State Champion in the sanctioned Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) contest.
“Teams will compete in four categories of chicken, pork ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket,” said Don Lovely, a KCBS representative who will monitor the contests. “My wife (Leslie) and I will be watching over the process, making sure everything is fair and reputable.”
Lovely said KCBS sanctioned events are a great asset to barbecue events across the country.
“KCBS has created a very common process that’s applied across the world,” he said. “You could be in Lake Placid one week for an event and then head over to Las Vegas and the process will be exactly the same. It makes it so the judges and the teams know exactly what they can expect.”
According to Lovely, judges consider everything from the color of the meat to the sauce, and even how easily it the meat falls off the bone. But as with dating, first impressions are very important.
“If the judges get the food and it just has a nice appetizing look to it, it’s much more likely to get a good score,” Lovely said. “I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.”
Along with rib, steak and chicken competitions during the Midnight Grilling Feld said an exciting part of the event to keep an eye on is the I Love Barbecue Junior World Championship at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 3.
“The idea is to create a center for the junior age group of American barbecue enthusiasts,” Feld said. “I’ve noticed that a lot young kids come to help out their parents in barbecue competitions, but there isn’t really an event just for them.”
According to Feld, 11 teams have already signed up, coming from far and wide.
“We have teams from Canada, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New Jersey,” Feld said. “The demographics have become quite good and we’re very proud of that.”
Now in its second year, the I Love Barbecue Junior World Championship, for ages 16 to 21, will consist of four categories: pork ribs, chicken, steak and dessert. Competitors will vie for the title of the Junior World Barbecue Champion and $1,000 in cash and prizes. The second and third place teams in the Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned event will make off with $500 in cash and prizes.
Last year Richard Tyler Westhaver took the prize, becoming the first world junior champion.
“It was a great experience,” Westhaver said. “I actually had a lot of trouble that day... ran into a lot of problems, but somehow in the end it all worked out well.”
Westhaver, who has been going to barbecue competition since he was about 3 years old, also said he thinks the competition has a lot of potential for growth.
“This is a very unique event. No one has anything like this,” Feld said. “There are some very talented young kids out there, and we’re asking for anyone else who’s interested to come and sign up.”
The winning team members of the junior competition will share a $10,000 scholarship awarded by Paul Smith’s College.
“We’re excited to to provide winners with the chance to pursue their culinary talents at the college level,” said Dr. Richard Nelson, Provost of Paul Smith’s College. “It’s one of those things where barbecue is a cooking tradition unique to America, so it’s nice to put a little energy back into something that’s homegrown.
Provost said he would like to have more students from Paul Smith’s culinary program involved with the event.
“There just aren’t too many of them around during the summer,” he said. “But it’s something we hope to improve in the future.”
There is a full lineup of musical performers slated for the barbecue festival, and many are making a return to the event.
“I can’t wait to come back and perform again,” said CJ Chenier of the Red Hot Louisiana Band in a press release. “The people, the food, the Olympic village of Lake Placid and, of course, the hospitality of the (festival) organizers make this event very special.”
Feld said there are 12 local bands that will be performing.
“We’ve got some great bands this year,” Feld said.
One of the headline performers will be CJ Chenier of the Red Hot Louisiana Band, seen here performing during last year’s barbecue festival.
Richard Rosentreter/Lake Placid News file photo
Fact BoxBBQ Fest
Friday, July 2
4 p.m.: Loud and Stupid
5 p.m.: Element
7 p.m.: CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band
9 p.m.: Stan Oliva
Saturday, July 3
Noon: Shipman Youth Center All Star Band
1 p.m.: Cross Winds
2 p.m. : Roadside Mystic
3 p.m.: rasinhead
4 p.m.: CJ Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band
7 p.m.: Larry Stone and the Stoneground Express
8 p.m.: Heritage
9 p.m.: Professor Chaos
Sunday, July 4
11 a.m.: Pat Duffy
Noon: Split Rock
1 p.m.: Lowell Bailey
2 p.m.: Sven Curth
3 p.m.: Cloning Cooper