Halloween 2015: Spooky and smoky with ‘Boo B Que by the Sea’

REHOBOTH BEACH – Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

Halloween weekend, there could be plenty of smoke with barbeque aroma rising along the Indian River Inlet Bridge at Delaware Seashore State Park, the staging venue for Boo B Que By the Sea – an event sanctioned by the internationally-famous Kansas City Barbeque Society.

“I love the smell about 6 o’clock in the morning,” said Snow Hill resident Sandy Fulton, a member of KCBS’s board of directors who has staged numerous events. “That bridge is going to be covered with barbeque smoke.”

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“Mixing with that salt air, that will be quite the smell,” said Delaware State Parks Director Ray Bivens.

The fifth annual Sussex Outdoors Summit will be held Friday, Oct. 30 in conjunction with Boo B Que By the Sea, which actually will be the second KSBS-sanctioned event in Sussex County this fall.

Five weeks earlier, the Heiferz, Henz and Hogz/Smoke Out 500 is on the KCBS’s calendar for Friday and Saturday Sept. 25-26 at Delaware International Speedway north of Delmar.

Boo B Que By the Sea is a family-oriented two-day event, Oct. 30-31, that will feature music entertainment, craft and food vendors, legal beverages, and of course the highly competitive barbeque competition.

“These are die-hard barbeque guys. It’s like a big family. Hopefully we’ll have competitors from all up and down the East Coast,” said Ms. Fulton.

Originally the event was scheduled Oct. 23-24 in conjunction with the Sea Witch/Fiddler Festival in Rehoboth. Sea Witch festival utilizes Delaware Seashore Park as a parking/shuttle site.

“Parking came up and that was a problem,” said Ms. Fulton, who is collaborating with Sussex Outdoors facilitator John Hollis and Delaware State Parks in staging Boo B Que By the Sea. “When the concern came up about Sea Witch’s parking I told John ‘the barbeque festival doesn’t need sea witch to exist.it exists on its own.’”

“By us going this weekend (Oct. 30-31), we have access to both side of the park,” said Mr. Hollis.

“We’re excited. We think Delaware Seashore’s campgrounds are the perfect site. The participants will be set up in the south inlet campground because a lot of them come with all sorts of different gear,” said Mr. Bivens. “A campground is kind of the ideal location for that, especially with the Indian River Bridge as the backdrop. And I look forward to smelling all of that good barbeque.”

“Quite honestly, our staff at Delaware Seashore has taken the lead on this,” said Mr. Bivens.

“This one at the seashore is going to be great because they (barbeque teams) are not used to having one on the water or near the water. So we are hoping this will be a big draw,” Ms. Fulton said.

Annually, KCBS sanctions hundreds of barbeque events in the United States, and even more around the globe, including Europe, South America, the Bahamas and Canada.

“We have about 500 contests all throughout country every year. It keeps growing and growing and growing,” said Ms. Fulton, who retired three years ago as Wicomico County’s Director of Tourism. “It’s a great organization. It’s very well organized. It is so reputable, so above board, and so rule generated I think that is why people like it.”

Competitors often consist of four-person teams. The majority of team members are men.

For a sanctioned event competitors must compete in four categories: chicken, ribs, pork and beef brisket.

Participants are on the clock as there are specific times the various barbeque dishes must be turned in for judging: chicken at noon; ribs at 12:30 p.m.; pork at 1 p.m.; and beef brisket at 1 p.m.

“It doesn’t alternate. It’s that way for all of them,” said Ms. Fulton. “There is a time-frame; you can turn it in five minutes before, or five minutes after.”

Judges must be certified.

“You have to take a class to learn how (to judge),” Ms. Fulton said.

Barbeque entries – brought to the judging table in identical 9-inch by 9-inch Styrofoam containers – are tasted and judged on appearance, taste and tenderness.

“Kansas City Barbeque Society uses what they call blind judging, which utterly makes it impossible to know whose food that you are tasting. This is what Kansas City feels is fair,” said Ms. Fulton. “It’s a ritual, it’s never altered.”

“When competitors set up, there is a meat inspector who goes around and inspects all meats, for proper temperature. There is no prepping. You can’t marinade two days before and bring it in,” said Ms. Fulton. “Once it is inspected they can begin.”

That often is in the wee hours of the last day, if not before.

Beef brisket, Ms. Fulton said, usually meets the heat first, often around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning.

Barbeque competitors vie for cash prizes, trophies, prestige as well as points toward Team of the Year honors and an opportunity to compete in the Jack Daniels – the barbeque world’s so-called Super Bowl held in October in Tennessee.

The Triple Threat BBQ Beer and Music Festival in April at the Delaware State Fairgrounds attracted 99 teams with prize money totaling $17,700.

Team entry fees usually run around $250 to $300, and many teams invest $1,000 or more during the competition.

Spectator admission typically is $5. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

Boo B Que By the Sea will support programs and initiatives of Sussex Outdoors, an extensive campaign geared toward encouraging individuals, families and children to be physically active in promoting healthy lifestyles.

Children in Nature

The major focus at this year’s summit is the Children in Nature initiative.

“Our Children in Nature effort will be one of the major beneficiaries of the barbeque event,” said Mr. Bivens. “So when people pay their daily entrance to attend the event it will go right back into the Children in Nature program.”

“The money is all going to the children. That makes it even better. Kansas City loves it when they have contests that are going to charity. That’s very important to Kansas City,” said Ms. Fulton. “So knowing that this is going to benefit those programs … the competitors will love that.”

Spooky and Smoky!

Boo B Que By the Sea will play to a Halloween theme. Tentative plans include contests for children, bobbing for apples, hayrides and costume contests, Ms. Fulton said.

“And we are talking about asking the competitors to dress up there booths, and dress up in Halloween costumes,” said Ms. Fulton. “They are a bunch of showmen so they

will probably love that part.”

Plans are in the works for a Trunk or Treat event for kids to come in costume during set hours.

“So while the parents are enjoying the smells, the kids can be going through and getting candy and things like that,” said Mr. Bivens.

Entertainment includes country music on stage at various times on Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct.31, Mr. Bivens said.

Other attractions

As an added attraction for children, Ms. Fulton said organizers considering a Kids Que, in which children would barbeque meat on portable grills.

Plans are also being finalized for Delaware State Parks’ launching of the low-digit surf fishing tags through an auction. About 10 to 12 tags are scheduled to be auctioned once details are cleared with the auction service, Mr. Bivens said.

“If the weather cooperates it will be great,” said Mr. Hollis.

People’s Choice

Plans for Friday night will likely include People’s Choice contests, with wings and possibly pulled pork. As this would not be officially sanctioned by KCBS, competitors would be given a certain amount of meat to prepare any way they desire.

The voting public – for wings, it is $1 per wing with a minimum five – would determine the People’s Choice winner.

“We did it in Chincoteague and had over 1,000 wings. They were gone in 30 minutes,” Ms. Fulton said.

Vendor options

However, due to public health issues entries prepared in the sanctioned barbeque competition are off limits to the public – with some exceptions.

“The most important thing to remember when you do a barbeque competition is that people cannot eat the competition food, because they are not inspected by the board of health,” Ms. Fulton said. “We do have several barbequers who are competitors and (licensed) vendors. So people can actually taste competition barbeque, which is a big difference than barbequing in your back yard. It is unbelievable.”

Nomination recognition

Among the on-stage presentations will be recognition of Delaware State Parks’ nomination for a gold medal award through the National Parks & Recreation Association.

“We’re excited,” said Mr. Bivens. “We’ll find out in late September. We’re one of four state parks systems that were nominated for this award. No matter, we’ll be celebrating being selected as one of the four – whether we are the grand gold medal winner or not.”

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