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BBQ festival raises $25,000 for Shipman Youth Center

July 27, 2018
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Dmitry Feld wears a lot of hats in this community - so many hats that he was named the Lake Placid-North Elba Adult Distinguished Volunteer of the Year in 2017. And he hangs all of those hats on the same rack every July for the I Love BBQ and Music Festival, a fundraiser for the Thomas Shipman Sr. Memorial Youth Center on Cummins Road.

Feld knew Shipman, a Lake Placid youth police officer who died unexpectedly in 1995, and helped the community build a youth center to serve local students from ages 10 to 18. At the time, Feld was marketing manager for USA Luge, which is the organizing sponsor for the barbecue festival.

Ground was broken on the youth center on April 13, 1997, two years to the day after Shipman's death. It opened on June 6, 1999. By 2005, the facility needed to raise some money, so they asked Feld - working as the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation's marketing manager at the time - to join an advisory committee to brainstorm ideas for a signature fundraising event.

Article Photos

I Love BBQ and Music Festival organizer Dmitry Feld, left, eats a pork rib while posing with competition cook Cameron Symonds at the event Saturday, July 7.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

"So I came to the meeting with all distinguished members of the community, lawyers, doctors, just great people of the town," Feld said. "Most of the people were thinking a golf tournament would do really well. I don't play golf, and I don't know the total dynamics, but I knew Lake Placid already had plenty of golf tournaments. ... I wanted to do something different."

Feld was watching the Food Network one day came and across a Kansas City Barbeque Society festival on one of the shows. For a man who grew up in the Soviet Union, moved to the U.S. in 1979 and became a U.S. citizen in 1984, Feld was intrigued by barbecue, what he calls "the only American-made food." The Food Network show inspired him. Maybe that could work in Lake Placid, he thought. After all, there weren't any food festivals here at the time.

"We have all kinds of athletic events, but nothing like this," he said. "So I opened my mouth, sitting in the corner, and said, 'What do you think about a professional barbecue tournament?' And they all looked at me like I was nuts."

Feld offered to investigate the idea and go back to the next meeting with more information. He asked his intern at the USBSF to do a little research, and soon Feld had a phone number for the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

"So I picked up the phone, and I called them," Feld said. "I said, 'Hey, it's Dmitry Feld from USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.' At that time, I worked there. And I said, 'I'm interested to see if I can have a barbecue festival in Lake Placid, New York.' The first thing I heard from their mouth was, 'Where are you calling from? Lake Placid, New York?' I said, 'Yeah, Lake Placid, New York.' And the woman said, 'Is that the home of the 1980 Olympic Games, the Miracle on Ice?' I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Absolutely! We'll be there helping you out.' I'm still getting goose bumps. I'll never forget that."

So at the youth center's next advisory committee meeting, Feld officially pitched the idea for a barbecue festival.

"They all looked at me and said, 'If you're going to run, go ahead and do it,'" he said.

It usually takes a couple of years to organize a barbecue festival, but Feld - with the help of local businesses and volunteers and the KCBS - did it in nine months.

"But, of course, there was a little skepticism," he said. "A Russian guy, luge guy, bobsled guy trying to run an American barbecue festival. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I took this as a full assault because I wanted to raise money for the Shipman Youth Center. The youth center at that time was struggling financially."

Then it was time for the inaugural I Love BBQ and Music Festival on July 3-4, 2006 at the Olympic Speedskating Oval.

"It was 16 barbecue teams that rolled into that event, and I will never forget that scenery," Feld said. "That's how it started."

All those hats

In addition to being the USA Luge marketing manager and I Love BBQ and Music Festival organizer, Dmitry Feld is currently president of the Shipman Youth Center's board of directors. All these jobs come together as one for the barbecue festival every July.

It's been a successful run for 13 years, bringing in more than $270,000 to the youth center since 2006 and about $25,000 this year.

The raffle money this year netted $10,800, and all of those funds will be used to send children of the youth center on spring vacations and day trips.

"So [youth center Director] Jason [Hooker] took them to Virginia Beach this year, took eight kids, three chaperones," Feld said. "They drove all the way to Virginia Beach."

The gate revenue was $14,200 this year, a little lower than Feld had expected but it will pay for three months of youth center operations.

In all, 39 teams competed in various barbecue competitions, tying last year's record. Most teams came from the U.S., but 13 visited from Canada, and eight of those were from Quebec.

"The Kids in the Kitchen and youth world championship competitions were very successful," Feld said in the wrap-up press release. "Best Ribs in the East was a landslide success. And we launched the new North American BBQ Brawl. These will all be back next year. We had super efforts from our volunteers in very hot conditions, and our long list of sponsors really showed their generosity."

Music is organized by USA Luge Marketing Director Gordy Sheer, and there are children's activities as well as performances by the Krusher BMX bike team from Canada.

The I Love BBQ and Music Festival will return for its 14th year on July 5-7, 2019. For more information, visit www.ilbbqf.com.

 
 

 

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