Well this is a first here at tDoB. I posted a preview of Hogs and Hops on Friday, attended the event on Saturday and here I am today posting the rundown only a few days later. Usually I’m no where near this on the ball. Oh, and as a TOTAL aside, this is my 200th post. Anyway, as I said in my preview, a lot has changed since the inaugural event last year.
First, let me say that although it is a little bit more of a drive for us, the new digs at Harrington were awesome. Plenty of room for the competitors, the food/beverage trucks and the vendors; plus a huge open field in front of a good sized bandstand. We got there a little bit before they could start serving/pouring so after we surveyed the area, we decided to take a moment to walk down the BBQ truck line and see what everyone had to offer.
Soon it was time for the event to start so we checked out the three beer trucks to see who had what on tap. I started with an Old Dominion Monk Czech and Tracey started with a Fordham Wisteria Wheat.
With beer in hand we strolled around the venue and checked out the vendors. We finally got the chance to meet Cindy Small of the Kent County & Greater Dover, Delaware Convention and Visitors Bureau, who were there promoting their up coming Delaware Wine and Beer Festival. I’ve done some promoting for Cindy, but this is the first time we’d met. It was great to relax a bit and get to talk about the up coming festival. But soon it was time for lunch. VIP ticket holders were served a BBQ platter from Mr. BAR-B-CUE which consisted of two out of three choices: brisket, whole hog pork or ribs. I told you I’d see that hog later.
It wasn’t long before the bandstand got rocking, as Tyler Toliver and perennial local favorites Love, Seed, Mamma, Jump supplied the music for the afternoon and early evening. Entertainment was also provided by the folks from Cowboy Up Saloon, who not only set up a fine tent, but got some of the crowd up for country line dance lessons and demonstrations in between sets.
“Pit row” as I like to call it was fun as always. As first all we could do was enjoy the smell of smoke wood in the air, and drool over all the different equipment that the teams brought (we were asked not to bother the teams until turn-ins were done). I always enjoy checking out the teams’ equipment, because you never know when you might see something you’ve never seen before.
And of course, many of them used the opportunity to show off.
But after last turn-in we walked through again and got to stop and talk to a few of the pitmasters including George and Kim Przybylski from Bang Bang BBQ, last year’s Hogs and Hops second place finisher in points. I asked them how they liked the bigger event. “I love bigger events,” George commented. “I normally don’t do small events, I just gave it a try last year. And this year’s just the beginning. This year he [Mark Hoffman, event coordinator] had to keep it small due to the KCBS sanctioning, but next year the sky’s the limit.”
Soon it was the time everyone was waiting for, the awards presentations. The field topped out at 45 BBQ teams from the surrounding area and as far away as North Carolina. The event consisted of four meat turn-ins: chicken, pork, ribs and brisket. The top ten in each category were awarded, along with reserve champion (second place all around points) and grand champion (first place). The Mid Atlantic BBQ Association was on hand as well to award the highest placed team from Delaware as “Delaware State Champion”.
Here’s a run down of the results:
Third – Aporkalypse Now
Second – GoneHoggin.com
Third – Rockin Robyns BBQ
Second – M & E BBQ
First – Big Dee’s BBQ
Third – 3 Eyz BBQ
Second – Tasty Licks BBQ
First – Lo’ and Slo’ BBQ
MABA, “Delaware State Champions” – M & E BBQ
RESERVE CHAMPION – Lo’ and Slo’ BBQ
GRAND CHAMPION – Aporkalypse Now
Congratulations to everyone!
When I asked event coordinator Mark Hoffman about the turn out, he indicated that he was happy with the numbers, “We estimate attendance to be around 3500 at this point but we won’t know final numbers for a week or two.” Of course being a beer guy, I couldn’t help but ask about what got poured out the three beer trucks and the on-field beer bar, “It looks like we burned through about 45 barrels [ETA: I believe he meant half-kegs] of beer, about the same as last year. That may be because we had the wine option with Fenwick wine cellars this year.”
For the most part I think Hogs and Hops surpassed itself in just about every way when compared to last year. But there was one feature of the event last year that I (and several other people I talked to) sorely missed. “We could not do a peoples choice this year due to health [department] regulations on contests like ours,” said Mark when I asked him about the missing Peoples Choice Award from last year. However, Mark recognizes how much people enjoyed that aspect of the event last year and although he knew he couldn’t implement it this year, he had already been formulating a plan to bring it back. “But we are working on something for next year already where teams would turn in a tray [of] pulled pork and WE would serve 1/2 oz cups and you vote for your favorites,” he told me. “It was just too late in the planning stage to add that in this year but we are already trying to develop that system for next year.”
And if everything works out, we’ll be there next year. After all, what dog doesn’t love a BBQ festival?