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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pork in the Park

Right-o, so I haven't been keeping this up steady but I'm back and here to tell you about our experience at our first big BBQ festival...Pork in the Park at Winterplace Park in Salisbury, MD.

We headed down the evening of Thursday April 14th and stayed with our friends, Kristi and Todd Cushman. I've know Kristi since High School and they are wonderful people with a delightful little boy. It was great to see them and get to hang out (even if it was only a little while since most time was spent at the festival). They have a lovely home and we are so grateful they let us crash with them.

Friday morning we rose early and headed out to Winterplace Park. After a little looking around at the grounds, who was there yet, what was there, we got back in the truck and headed over to our space. We began setting up and within a short time our space was ready to go so we moved the truck to the parking lot and waited for the festival to open.

It began as a beautiful day. Sunny, not too chilly and a little breeze. By the time the festival opened though, the weather had started to turn. The wind began to pick up and a chill hit the air. The rain held off but the chill kept a lot of people from coming out. Sales on Friday did not fare too well but we met some nice people. There was a couple right next to us selling fitted thumb and toe rings...some cute stuff. My wife picked up a little heart ring for her pinky (technically it was a toe ring, but if it fits, wear it!) We also were able to meet Todd "The Dirtman". He makes some awesome seasonings/rubs. We met Capt. Thom, from Capt. Thom's Chili Pepper Company, a great guy with some great hot sauces. My wife also went around and met some of the BBQ competitors. At the end of the night we moved everything to the center of the tent, zipped it closed and headed back to the Cushman's.

Saturday came early and it was already chilly. The weather report was calling for a storm later that day, but we hoped it would hold off or push to one direction or the other. We made our way to our tent and got set up. The wind was fairly strong and our tent was trying to blow away. My wife made her way to Wal-Mart and picked up a few more tent spikes and some nylon cord. Our friends from the Jewelry tent helped us to tie down and double up the spikes. The wind continued to get stronger. Sales were not too good due to the weather once again but we did get some people and all good responses to the sauce. By mid afternoon the rain and wind got so bad the woman in charge of the vendors gave us the option to leave. By then the sides on our tent just couldn't hold any longer (several other vendors had already lost their tents) and they started to tear. We were able to use the sides to cover our inventory though but we needed to get the truck so we clear out and regroup for Sunday.

I ran to the truck and tried to get back to our site but the competitors were finishing up and they wouldn't let any trucks back. I even explained that I was a vendor and lost my tent and rain was getting to my stuff. That wasn't as important though I guess. I was told it would only be a few minutes...Nearly an hour later we were able to bring our truck back to our site and load up our stuff. Needless to say I was a bit upset since it would have taken me 5 minutes to get to my site. At any rate, we cleared up all our stuff except the tent frame and headed out. The festival was shut down at 6pm due to the weather.

Sunday morning we made our way back and several vendors had shuffled around due to tent loss and the competitors having moved out. We bunched up together and set up our tables, prepared for a bright sunny day. Business on Sunday was much better. The weather was great and tons of people came out. We got a lot of "Q" Sauce fans that day for sure. After a long weekend we packed up the truck and headed home. That's where this adventure ends...right? Of course not.

We were making good time. We left pretty much at 5pm on the dot, which would enable us to get home before the kids went to bed. Well, that was the plan anyway. With exactly 15 miles left until the Bay Bridge (about an hour or so from home) we heard a noise and the gear shift had no tension to it. We were stuck in first gear. The first call I made was to my mother. Why my mother? Well, instead of calling AAA and having them tow it to some dump 2 miles away that would charge me out the A** for the work, I call family. Mom called my older brother who happened to be with my father. Well, they got their trucks and the trailer and headed my way. Once they got there we loaded my truck on the trailer and hauled it to Adolph's in Lutherville (my dad's worked for them forever). We finally made it home by midnight and pretty much went straight to bed.

The following day the truck was fixed (turned out to be a little piece of plastic that broke) and all was well...what an adventure. Our next festival will be the Naptown barBayq May 13-14. Hoping for good weather. :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Update and BBQ Around MD

So...I know it's been a bit since I wrote anything, but I've been stressing over home stuff and getting ready to go be a vendor at Pork in the Park (the largest KCBS Festival on the East Coast!). That last part make me kinda nervous. 

I've got to figure out what to do since I don't have a food license for Wicomico County (the cost was more than I wanted to pay for the short time we'd be there and they wanted info that a novice like myself wasn't sure about) so I can't sample. Although I've been given a few tips from people that have done these things before and I'll speak with other vendors while I'm there. This is the first really big festival I've been to.

I am also going to speak with a local church about renting their kitchen for testing and stuff which would allow me the use of their license (at least for Balto County). I don't understand why they can't just have one license that covers you for the whole state. I've also got a new plan in the works that will allow me to expand on the blog.

Since the BBQ season has arrived I will be traveling around the Baltimore Metro Area checking out as many BBQ joints as I can find. I'll start with the little shacks (i.e. Charcoal Deli, Charcoal Grill, etc) and work my way up to the bigger restaurants (i.e. Charred Rib, Corner Stable, etc) then maybe some chains...maybe. Then I'll post my reviews on their service, food and especially their sauces.

Hooray for BBQ!!