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BBQ Fest combines competitive cooking with community support

July 12, 2018
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - It was a repeat of the 1932 Olympic Winter Games here as Canada walked away with the top-place finish against the U.S.

Canada won the 1932 gold medal in hockey, but apparently they are also good at barbecue, taking first place in the first-ever North American BBQ Brawl Saturday, July 7 at the 13th annual I Love BBQ and Music Festival at the Olympic Speedskating Oval. The contest was held in the memory of Michael Sawyer, a barbecue competitor from western New York who died in 2016.

The U.S., which earned a silver medal in hockey in 1932, tallied 866.8 points against Canada's 913.4 points in the BBQ Brawl. Three teams from each country competed, and their scores were combined for the overall title. Additionally, Eatapedia from Ottawa was the top team of all six competitors and brought home a trophy for its effort.

Article Photos

Members of Good Smoke BBQ, of Rochester, celebrate Sunday, July 8 after being named the grand champion of the Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned contest at the I Love BBQ and Music Festival at the Olympic Speedskating Oval. They are posing with trophies and ceremonial check for $2,500. They competed in chicken, brisket, pork ribs and pulled pork.
(Photo provided — USA Luge/Sandy Caligiore)

For the Canadians, it was Eatapedia (first), Smokin Boys & Hot Grills (second) and Skara Old School (sixth).

For the U.S., it was Steve's Prime BBQ (third), Behind BBQ (fourth) and Vlicious (fifth).

In a similar format to the "Chopped" TV show on the Food Network, teams were given boxes with mystery ingredients for an entree and a dessert. While they had more than a day to plan their dishes, they only had two hours to prepare them. The ingredients for the entree were duck, rabbit, yucca (cassava), scallions and garlic. For the dessert, it was sweet potatoes, birch syrup, chocolate, salty pretzels and strawberries. Hannaford supermarket in Lake Placid donated all the food for the contest, except the rabbit.

Cameron Symonds, a 1996 graduate of the Tupper Lake High School who now lives in Mansfield, Massachusetts, competed on the Steve's Prime BBQ team.

"I have a lot of friends on the Canadian teams, so I'm really excited to go head-to-head with them, USA versus Canada," Symonds said a few minutes before the Brawl teams began cooking at 3 p.m.

Symonds also cooked for Friday's Northeast Barbecue Society Grilling Bash competition and the Best Ribs in the East contest, and his children, 7-year-old MacKenzie and 8-year-old Matthew, competed in Saturday's Kids in the Kitchen competition. His brother's daughter, 7-year-old Eliza, also competed for the kids, and 13-year-old son Dawson competed in the Junior World Championship Youth Division.


Giving back

The I Love BBQ and Music Celebration is not just about barbecue competition; it's also about giving back to the community. The event is a fundraiser for the Thomas Shipman Youth Center in Lake Placid, and the festival raised $24,000 this year. USA Luge Marketing Manager Dmitry Feld has been organizing the festival since the beginning, and USA Luge Marketing Director has been in charge of the music for the event.

Feld recruits a lot of his friends to volunteer at the festival, and many have been coming back since year one.

Kyle Woodlief, who operates an independent scouting service for the National Hockey League and other leagues, has been volunteering at the festival's VIP credentials table at the front gate for 13 years with his wife, Annette Hofmann. He is originally from Montreal and has been in Lake Placid for 27 years. She is a music teacher living in Germany.

"We have a trans-Atlantic marriage," Woodlief said.

The reason they volunteer is because of Feld.

"Dmitry introduced the two of us and we wound up getting married, so we kind of felt indebted at that point," Woodlief said. "I asked Dmitry this year how many more years I had to go to get a pension, but I didn't get a definitive answer on that."

They enjoy meeting people and giving back.

"Dmitry gives so much back to the community, and any venture of his, we'd to support as much as we can," Woodlief said.


BBQ contest results

In all, 39 teams competed for barbecue titles during the 2018 I Love BBQ and Music Festival, including 13 teams from Canada.

For the Northeast Barbecue Society's Grilling and BBQ Bash on Friday, 10 teams competed in four categories: New York strip steak, fatty sausage, pizza and chicken. The top teams were Buckner Brothers BBQ (first), Miller's Backyard BBQ (second) and Behind BBQ (third).

For the Kansas City Barbeque Society's state championship on Sunday, 39 teams competed in four categories: chicken, pork ribs, pulled pork and brisket. The top teams were Good Smoke BBQ (first), Smokin Hoggz BBQ - MA (second) and Smokin Boys and Hot Grills (third).

For the Best Ribs in the East contest, seven teams competed and the winners were V licious (first), Paddy McQ's (second) and Boar-N-Que (third).

For the Quinn family barbecue and hot sauce competition, there were 18 teams that participated. For the barbecue sauce, the top-three winners were Good Smoke BBQ (first), Millers Backyard BBQ (second) and Prime BBQ (third). For the hot sauce, the top-three winners were Boar-N-Que (first), Hokie Pokie Q (second) and Buckner Brothers BBQ (third).



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