Whoever decided that Halloween is better with smoke, seasoning and marinade may have had the right idea, as the fourth annual Boo-B-Que: Barbecue & Brews Festival will return to Delaware Seashore State Park on Oct. 19 and 20.
Professional and amateur cooks will serve up their meanest meats at Indian River Inlet, in a two-part weekend, featuring an official pro competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, plus a community festival for the public.
“It’ll be a well-rounded event for the whole family,” said Matt Garbutt, brand manager for the Big Chill Beach Club restaurant, which is located inside the park.
On Friday night, the event will welcome the public into the KCBS competitors’ field. There will be free trick-or-treating and a costume contest for children; a barbecue chicken wing competition; and beer garden; and music by DJ Magellan. Wing samples cost $1 each from the KCBS competitors, and the public will vote for a “People’s Choice Award.” Friday night is free (although the state park still has an entrance fee per vehicle).
“It’s a chance to taste really good barbecue because this is what these people do,” Garbutt emphasized. “These are people that are really spending a lot of time, making sure it’s something you taste and you have that ‘wow’ factor.
Saturday is the public festival, from 2 to 7 p.m. Guests can sample pulled-pork recipes from all 20 regional competitors. Local breweries will sell local ales, including Crooked Hammock Brewery, Mispillion River Brewing, Dewey Beer Company and Big Oyster Brewery.
There will also be other food-truck vendors, as well as carnival-style desserts and other fare.
Most of the kids’ activities are pay-as-you-go, including sand art, pumpkin painting, face-painting and more, with help from the Dewey Artist Collaboration. The scarecrow-building station is free for all.
Delaware Cornhole will also host a Boo-B-Que Cornhole Tournament at the festival. Two-person teams can register Saturday starting at 2 p.m. The cost is $40 per team.
For Saturday’s live entertainment, headlining act Sweet Leda will perform rocking soul music all day, a mix of new-school funk, psychedelic rock, soul and pop. DJ J.J. Roth will spin tunes in between sets.
The food is definitely a highlight.
“It’s going to be exciting to see everybody’s spin on it. There’s a million different ways somebody can craft it up,” Garbutt said. “Just hearing some of the feedback from the guys, it takes 48 hours of smoking and rubs and smoking it.”
The barbecue competition is officially a private event, mostly separate from the main festival — except for the Friday-night tastings and Saturday award ceremony at 5 p.m.
It is one of 450 contests that the nonprofit KCBS sanctions in its worldwide mission “to celebrate, teach, preserve and promote barbecue as a culinary technique, sport and art form.”
This year, the event is being presented by La Vida Hospitality (which owns the restaurant inside the park), DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, Radio WOCM Ocean 98 and Kansas City Barbeque Society, with promotional help from local Chambers of Commerce and tourism bureaus. Halloween activities are sponsored by Delaware State Parks.
“It’ll be a great event, and everybody should come!” Garbutt said. “There’ll be something there for everybody. It’s barbecue-focused, but if you don’t like barbecue, you shouldn’t be afraid to come because there will be other activities.”
Parking will be in the south-side lot of Delaware Seashore State Park, and the festival itself will be at the south-side campground.
Friday admission is free, with regular paid parking for vehicles. On Saturday, general admission with tastings costs $25 (including 20 tasting samples of pulled pork and voting privileges). General admission to the festival costs $10. Kids 14 or younger are admitted free of charge.
A portion of the profits will be donated to Delaware Children in Nature initiative, which promotes outdoor experiences for young people. Details are online at www.boo-bq.com. Tickets can be purchased at a discount beforehand at http://business.bethany-fenwick.org/events. Tickets will also be available at the festival entrance.
Delaware Seashore State Park is located at the Indian River Inlet. It’s official address is 39415 Inlet Road, Rehoboth Beach.
By Laura Walter