Smile Politely

Three alarm barbecue on a five alarm day

It may not sound like the best idea, but it was well worth it. I’m talking about the 2009 Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival, this past Friday and Saturday in downtown Urbana. Just the smell of wood-burning grills leaves me salivating more than Pavlov’s dog. Even Mother Nature was a fan; she was trying to barbecue everyone there.

But, I digress: let’s get down to business. Bliss BBQ Works (from Charleston) was the first stand I felt my stomach leading me to, and with good reason. They had an offering called the Pulled Pork Parfait, which also gets my award for most unique entry of the day. Coleslaw, beans, sauce, and pulled pork all stacked together in a cup, and all for only four tickets ($4).

While enjoying the “meat cup”, as one event guest so eloquently put it, I spied some spare ribs. Since spare ribs are my kryptonite, I had to try them. The chow was being offered by the Black Dog Smoke and Ale House, which is located about three buildings down from where their tent was set up. The ribs were par for the course, but the sauce was definitely the best of the night. Being flavorful and spicy is a rare feat, but they accomplished it very well. For three tickets ($3), one couldn’t complain.

Also represented there were local favorites Blues BBQ, Foudini’s and Lil’ Porgy’s BBQ. Accompanying them was Holy Smoke BBQ and the Urbana Firefighters.

The firefighters were hard to miss. Having their grill upon a fire truck, and having that fire truck right next to the main entrance, I felt they deserved some attention. Their proposition was one of chicken legs. And for a ticket ($1) a piece with three flavors to choose from, they were well frequented by yours truly throughout the night. They also deserve kudos for being some of the friendliest people that I met on the night.

Boy, was that BBQ good. But what is good grilling without beer? Good thing I didn’t have to find out: Miller was there to supply my drinks. Being billed partly as a beer festival, I was expecting some unique furnishings, but alas, that was not to be had. They did, however, have Blue Moon ($4) on tap, and I wasn’t about to complain (doesn’t mean I can’t now though).

There was something for everyone to do, and the kids’ area didn’t disappoint. After watching some flag twirling, I jumped on the mechanical bull. After realizing that was a bad idea, I headed for the inflatable obstacle course (we are all kids at heart). Also for the young ‘uns were some rather large connect four and checkers games to enjoy. Also included, and thankfully shaded, was a Guitar Hero tournament presented by Exile on Main Street. The kids loved it, and while they were waiting to play, they were took in a presentation by local skateboarders whom were adjacent to the game. It was very nice to see them being given a chance to be a part of the show, especially after last week’s gathering at the “Taste of Champaign” was broken up rather quickly.

All things considered, it was a very good event. Next time though, maybe Mother Nature can turn the thermostat down.

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