Big Fresno Fair BBQ Contest

The Big Fresno Fair held its annual BBQ Contest and Chili Cook-Off yesterday. These were just the contests for a rainy morning on a fall morning in Fresno, especially since it had been 97 degrees on Wednesday!

There were a number of categories for BBQ – Healthy Choice, Seafood, Poultry, Pork, Beef, Juniors and Winners’ Circle. Winners’ Circle consists of the winners of the first five categories from the previous year. There are a number of contestants who enter year after year, it’s a fair-time social event for them; and there were a few new contestants as well.

I got to sample a few things - Ani’s Hawaiian Shrimp, Bulldog Bob’s decadent bread, Ashleigh’s Chile-Lime Shrimp with Mango Salsa, Kevin’s Korean BBQ Beef with Kimchee Style Slaw, and Dylan’s Pineapple Polo Baby Backs. Eating on the fly in the midst of the contest is always a challenge, but I have learned that if I don’t do it when they offer me something, samples will be long gone when the contests are done and I have time to sample. That’s what happened with Vern’s Chicken Fajitas, oh well, I will just have to make them myself. The fajitas sure looked amazing, though.

The most talked about dish was young Dylan’s Pineapple Polo Baby Backs. Dylan was in the Junior division with Ashleigh. The ribs were incredibly tender, juicy and moist, but the sauce…oh, the sauce! It was delicious! The sauce was thick, sweet, rich. I’d like to try that sauce on a few other things as well – scrambled eggs, pork roast…

The judges could not say enough about Dylan’s dish. So during the comment phase of the awards ceremony (I always ask the judges to collectively come up with some positive constructive comments for the Junior Division participants) they said they thought Dylan should find the best culinary school he could afford and enroll as soon as he is eligible! He’s only 16 and still eligible for the Junior division next year. I have never heard the judges talk about ANY contestant’s faire, in the seven years I have helped with this contest, as they did yesterday about Dylan’s! Way to go young dude! (I secretly wonder if we should have a “best of show” dish, Dylan probably would have won this year. But with two panels of judges, judging different categories, I don’t know if that would work so smoothly or efficiently.)

Anyway, here are the first place results:

Junior – Dylan’s Pineapple Polo Baby Backs
Seafood – Ani’s Hawaiian Shrimp Bar-b-que
Healthy Choice – Veleda’s Surf & Turf Lettuce Wraps
Poultry – Vern’s Chicken Fajitas (served as soft tacos)
Pork – Garo’s Jo Jo’s Smoked Pork Sandwich
Beef – Michael’s Bogoli Barbeque
Winner’s Circle – Kevin’s Korean BBQ Beef Short Ribs with Kimchee Style Slaw
Chili – Carmen’s Chili a la Mexicana

I was able to connect with a few of the contestants at the end of the competition to ask if I could share their recipes at hollysdiner.com, and some granted permission. So I have four recipes to share with you on the recipe page. They are all blue ribbon winners, including Dylan’s soon-to-be-famous ribs. Enjoy!

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