Monday, August 18, 2014

Q Fest 2014: Backyard Barbecue Heats Up

Judge's sampling the 'que.
Thank you again for everyone who made Q Fest 2014 another great event! There is so much that goes into creating this event each year that I can't begin to express how grateful I am to have such understanding and loving people in my life. No shit. I'm not kidding this time. None of this happens without my lovely wife Jill and my kids, Cody, Dustin, Carter and Lily. Thank you all so much for helping with the house and yard, and most of all, for putting up with me all summer!

Me and my love!
Q Fest 2014 was our fourth yearly event and planning for it went relatively well, but for some reason I stressed about it the most. In addition to dealing with Jill's emergency surgery and extended hospital stays, all I kept thinking was , "there's no way we will get a fourth straight year of beautiful weather for this". Honestly, I had nightmares about the whole event being ruined by one thing or another. (An unwelcome interruption from my usual dreams about naked cowgirl zombies, but that's a discussion for me and my therapist.) But the barbecue gods were looking down on us and we had just a gorgeous day!

Jim Duffey entertains.
Highlights of the event for me included an acoustic set by my good friend Jim Duffey who opened the Fest with about an hour of his favorite original and cover songs. Jim and I have played in bands together since I was in high school and I have always been a huge fan of his songwriting talents. For me, great music is part of enjoying great barbecue, and Jim made my day by coming in from Chicago and sharing his songs with us! A special shout out to Hey Man, who finished up the day with their own musical sets!

A full yard of barbecue!
We had 11 teams register this year, but thanks to little Jude who made his appearance in this world just a couple days before, our good friends from Big Wood Little Beaver had to drop out at the last minute (damn kids!). The only dish I didn't get to try was Frank's BA ribs so I'm extra disappointed that I missed out on them because they did get an award. I never did get a chance to vote (too busy feeding you needy people) but I will share with you some thoughts. I really enjoyed John's smoked pork belly and was a bit surprised we didn't see him accepting an award. I thought Cody and Spencer's cheeseburger sliders were done extremely well. I also thought newcomers Mark and Kim's chili was a great first entry and I hope they will make another run at an award next year.

Each year it seems, teams are taking this competition more and more seriously. I think that's worth a loving slap on the ass. I see teams coming better prepared, making dishes that are more planned out and complex. We have teams coming with professionally made banners and t-shirts, and truly embracing the balance between having fun and competing. That's what this event was always meant to be. Making new friends over some cold brews, great barbecue, good music, and having a little spirit of competition to make it interesting. I hope we will continue to keep that spirit growing.

People's Choice Winners
1st Place went to House Targaryen Dragon Breath BBQ with their Maple Beef Brisket
2nd Place was Naked Bastards BBQ with Simply BBQ Chicken with Bacon Mac 'n Cheese
3rd Place taken by No Name with their Pork Tenderloin

Dragon's Breath BBQ, Naked Bastards BBQ, and No Name

Judge's Choice Winners
1st Place was Moeller Meat and Sweet BBQ with their Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders with Creamy Coleslaw
Judge's Choice Honorable Mention went to Second Hand Smokers with Frank's BA Ribs
Judge's Choice Best Side Dish went to House Targaryen Dragon Breath BBQ with their Potato Pancake with Goat Cheese Sour Cream

Moeller Meat and Sweet BBQ, and Second Hand Smokers

Cookie Contest Winners
1st Place went to Danielle Weber
2nd Place went to Lily Wild and Jillian Yorko
3rd Place was won by Jen Cullen

Danielle 1st, Jillian and Lily 2nd, and Jen 3rd

This was the first year we actually asked for donations to help us with the costs of the paper goods and beer. It's not about the money for us, but shit people, you drink like you'll never see another beer in your life! Everyone proved to be exceptionally generous, and after covering a portion of costs, we were able to make a donation to Pets Alive (formally Buffalo Humane) on everyone's behalf.

Special Thank You To:
Jim, Dave and Roger for entertaining us with music throughout the day.
Kelly and Alyssa for tending bar and keeping the drinks flowing.
Don, Barb and Rich for judging all our amateur entries.
Erin for running the judging contest and keeping us on track.
Jill for organizing and running the cookie contest.
Mom and Dad, Mary and Danny, John, Kathy and Jen who donated gift baskets.
Melissa and Bill for counting the voting ballots.
Joe and John for loaning us tables, tents and chairs.
John, Mark and Frank who helped with yard clean up Sunday morning while I had to be in Rochester with Carter for a hockey game. What a tremendous help!

See everyone next year!