Joe Winter
Special to the Catholic Herald

With a name as heaven-harkening as Holy Smoke, you can be sure the activities at St. Patrick were many and varied, including barbeque and dessert competitions, games and more.

The second annual barbeque festival took place Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Hudson church.

It took hours of build-up, into a full afternoon, to showcase the main event. Competitors started setting up their barbeque gear early in the morning. All entries had to be cooked onsite.

“I just like being out here,” said Ed DePaul, now in his second year of the competition, while motioning to the assembling crowd, “mainly being around all the people, some of whom are cooking. And there is the great food.”

DePaul was barbequing several of the biggest racks of ribs you will find, and Dcn. Gregg Miller wandered by to look and taste, then converse. It would be only minutes before the 17 judges began making their rounds, and then the real table-talk would start.

“Each team will have a panel of judges visit your booth and give a chance to explain how your food item was prepared, seasoned and cooked,” contest rules state, adding that all codes must be followed. “You are responsible for observing all prudent temperature and sanitation requirements.”

Roasted pork bellies were added by one chef to this year’s offerings. Big slabs of brisket on a grill more than three feet wide, also. Last year, one BBQ-er even made fish, including salmon.

Grilling for the open cook contest could consist of smoked beef, chicken, pork or fish, and even vegetables, with the advance pictured meat forms included drumsticks, racks of ribs, flattened patties, lines of stringed sausages, pulled and shredded chops and full bone-in steaks. Entries were weighed on their appearance, taste, moisture, tenderness and overall impression.

Lemonade and watermelon were offered to patrons, as well as soda for purchase.

Chefs prepared a minimum of 50 bite-size samples for judging and sampling. Grilling team members had to be at least 14 years old (younger chefs had to stick to the accompanying dessert contest), with each team’s captain required to be at least 21 years old.

Many of those competing upped the ante with silly signs – such as “The Ten Commandments of Barbequing” – denoting their creations.

This year, the competition was made shorter and sweeter to draw in more people, since it had competition, as there were other big fall festivals going on in town on this weekend, including one at another nearby church, organizers said. This attendance goal was accomplished by 3 p.m.

When the judging was done, festival-goers sampled from among the almost dozen food booths. Organizers said the hour prior to that was used for setup of equipment and spreading of utensils, plates and napkins – but mostly to do the multiple steps of food prep worthy of a country-style restaurant. One of the chefs who was also an organizer, Brian Hinz, was sporting thick, black plastic gloves while frying up dozens of chicken drumsticks.

The whole family could get involved, too. For kids ages 5-13, there was a dessert contest: bake your favorite full-size cake, pie and cookie/bars/brownies. Entries had to be made from scratch and not need refrigeration, complete with an index card listing ingredients. Judging was done on five categories, including appearance, flavor such as aroma, texture, moisture and crumbliness, and creativity and originality.

“Although we know some children may require assistance in the kitchen, we ask that the children do the majority of the recipe,” contest rules stated.

In addition to the barbeque and dessert competitions, the festival included brats, kids’ games and, for the card-playing crowd, Euchre.

Dcn. Gregg Miller stands back from smoking brisket as he enjoys a sample from chef Ed DePaul. (Photo by Joe Winter)