This just came into my in-box about The Great State of Maine Grilling and Barbecue Fesitval. This is another great event sanctioned by The New England Barbeque Society. I wonder who won? Whoops - also just in - I Smell Smoke wins! Congrats guys!
Despite the heat, by 1 p.m., more than 100 meat fanatics and 18 certified judges devoured ribs, chicken wings, pork, sirloin steak, grilled pizza and ice cream at Zach's Farm on Colby Turner Lane. Many will wake up and do it all over again today for the festival's final competition, which will send one talented team of cooks to the national barbecuing championship.
While the public feasted on food from local and national vendors, judges sat under a shaded tent to taste entries from 24 contestant teams, most of which traveled from within New England to compete for the Maine title.
These folks take their meat seriously.
"It's an art form, cooking barbecue," said event coordinator Vito Marotta, who has served as a judge at dozens of other festivals.
Without much chatter, judges sniffed, bit, licked and eyed the food they were given in small cardboard boxes, which allowed for a blind taste test of the food coming from the teams.
The winner of Saturday's grilling competition, which was composed of five categories — including a dessert containing blueberries — and Sunday's barbecuing competition will be announced today at 5 p.m.
Competitors Randy Leech, Ryan Briolat and Randy Briolat of Portsmouth cooked up a blueberry crème brûlée on the grill, served with a graham cracker crust. The team members, who call themselves the Puddledock Porkas, said the event is just as much about having fun as it is grilling.
A total of 25 teams will continue to compete today for more than $7,500 in prizes. Many teams said they were hoping to win some cash as reimbursement for all they have spent toward the weekend — teams spent $300 to $600 on food alone.
But most say they have their eyes on the prize, and that's not the money — it's Kansas City. Today's winner will hold the Maine State Championship and will travel to the American Royal in Kansas, one the biggest competitions in the country.
The first event, organized by Dennis Sherman of Denny Mike's Smokehouse BBQ and Deli in Old Orchard Beach, was not open to the public. Co-organizer Patty Sherman said they wanted the public to attend this year and in years to come because "people love barbecue. Throw in music and a nice day ... and it's a great thing."