I forgot to include “Attend a Festival” in my end-of-summer must-do list from last week. You’ve got plenty of choices; Hudson Valley Magazine listed 32 scheduled for the summer of 2014. I took advantage of Sunday’s beautiful weather to indulge my love of pork and headed to the 10th Hudson Valley RibFest, hosted by the Highland Rotary Club in New Paltz, New York.
The Fest featured different activity areas, including a performance stage, children’s rides, and a demonstration tent. There were many vendors too, including the folks from Tuthilltown Spirits, a distillery based in nearby Gardiner, NY. And hot sauce. Plenty of hot sauce. People who like ribs like blazing hot sauce as well.
Oh. And did I mention this was a RibFest? The food concessionaires spent much of the afternoon bragging about their bbq and showing off their championship trophies. If pork isn’t your thing – sacrilege – there were other options including lobster rolls, roasted corn and fried pickles, as well as traditional festival sweets like deep-fried oreos.
I did not know that there was such a thing as competitive bbq’ing. 60 teams assembled on the fairgrounds and set up their tents, grills, and smokers. 60 judges donned bibs and dug into plates of chicken, pork, brisket and ribs. Apparently, it’s an opportunity for men who love tailgating to expand their season. They form teams with silly names – Blazin’ Buttz, Garden State Porkway, Three Men and a Baby Back – and drink bourbon from the bottle. They were having a very good time.
The demonstration tent featured Chef Jesse Jones, one of NJ.com’s top chefs of 2014. He shared his secret to tasty fried chicken; it’s brine, baby, brine. He’s cooked for celebrities like John Legend, Tyler Perry and Whoopi Goldberg. Her favorite seasoning? Lawry’s.
Local country singer Jessica Lynn took the stage on Sunday afternoon, one of 6 acts who performed over the weekend. I’m not a fan of country music, but she’s entirely likable and is having a very successful year. She has one PBS special currently airing and will be filming another at the end of September at Peekskill’s Paramount Theater.
So, get thee to a festival. There’s still some summer left. Or have you already visited one? Share the details! If walking around a dusty field isn’t your thing, heat up your grill, shake up a drink and put your feet up in your own backyard.
Gin & Jam Cocktail, as prepared by mixologist Brianne Olsson of Tony’s Pizzeria in Kingston:
* 3 oz. lemonade (store-bought is fine; homemade is preferred)
* 2 oz. gin
* 1 tbsp jam (pick up some from a local farmer’s market)
Combine ingredients over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass – Brianne likes everything retro and suggests a champagne saucer. Garnish with berries and enjoy!