About 1 p.m. on Saturday, people looking to size up competitors in a rib competition at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. were disappointed to learn they might never find out which barbecue team best knew its way around the smoker.
“We’re out of ribs, only riblets,” shouted Stephen Moran, a member of a six-man barbecue team that goes by the name “Smokin Irish,” to hungry barbecue fans.
The two-day Beer, BBQ and Blues Festival, which was a fundraiser for the non-profit veterans group Wounded Warrior Project, drew a larger crowd than organizers anticipated on its first day. Each competitor was given 12 racks, all of which were gobbled up by the more than 1,000 people in attendance just a few hours after the event started.
But that didn’t stop guests from enjoying a few brews and offerings from local food trucks while competitors restocked.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the turnout,” said Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. co-owner Rich Vandenburgh. “Next year it’s going to be way more. Hopefully those people who didn’t get a chance to sample any will give it another try next year.”
Still, he said, the event raised thousands of dollars for the charity, though exact figures were not immediately available.
Here’s how it worked: Voters purchased a five-ticket book for $10, which netted them tastes from five of the 21 competitors. Voters then cast their ballot with a sixth “golden” ticket. The pit master who amassed the most golden tickets is the champion.
Alan Goldblatt of Holbrook, another member of Smokin’ Irish, noted that the short supply just meant the goods were in high demand.
“For the people’s ribs [contest], if you’re doing it right, sooner or later you will run out,” Goldblatt said.
The results were not immediately available, though one participant had no qualms about revealing who got his vote.
“The sauce was awesome,” Hank Rodenburg of Farmingdale said of the team that calls itself “Stubborn Bull.” “And the ribs were tender.”
Vandenburgh said he was impressed with the barbecue teams.
“The competitors that come and participate are very serious about their craft,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see how a full-blown barbecue fest works.”
The festival continues today, with a competition determined by Kansas City Barbecue Society-approved judges, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
See photos from the event below.