By Peter Peterson
Huntington Beach CA, (Perfect Meal Today) 8/9/16—August 5-7, 2016: It was a smoky good day at the 5th annual Ribs, Pigs and Watermelon 2016 Summer Festival and Pro Barbecue Competition held at the Huntington Beach State Park. The event hosted the KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) sanctioned Pro Barbecue competition. Over 50 teams from all over the great US of A will be competing for $10,000 in prize money. And these teams take their BBQ very seriously. The three-day event proceeds go towards American Family Housing’s “Homeless to Hope to Home” program. And fans were buying a lot of BBQ and Beer to support the cause.
What would a BBQ Festival be without a Watermelon eating contests, distance seed spitting contest and watermelon carving? Pretty boring, but the Ribs and Pigs Festival was all about family events and good eatin!
On the main stage there was bands performing all types of music each day. Country Bands on Friday, a Reggae Festival, featuring Pato Banton (formally with General Public) on Saturday and Classic Rock Bands and a Classic Car Show on Sunday.
The Ribs, Pigs and Watermelon Festival event is a fundraiser for American Family Housing, helping the homeless get back on their feet. American Family Housing is a 27-year-old nonprofit specializing in the care of homeless families and individuals. AFH is one of the largest homeless service providers in the county. In combination with the affordable housing programs, AFH shelters over 1300 people per night. The shelter programs provide a comprehensive wrap around service that includes, besides housing; counseling, job coaching, motivational classes, finance management, and kid’s programs for preschool, school aged and teenagers. The majority of the people in the programs are under the age of 18. For more about American Family Housing go to www.afhusa.org
Costs for the Ribs, Pigs and Watermelon event were very affordable at $10 for three-day pass or nine dollars online and five dollars for a three day kids pass ages eight through 12. Any child under seven were free. All active military personnel and service veterans will receive free admission. Event parking was kind of a chore at the beach, but if you got there early you were able to find a spot. This is a fundraising event so there is a charge for food samples from the pit masters. It was very affordable two dollars per ticket but best value was $20 for 13. They had a beer garden sponsored by BJ’s Brewery. Each beer ticket was five dollars each. But it was worth it! There were also vendors selling water, sodas, and lemonade. Each day of the event was hot and sunny and it was a nice touch that volunteer staff was riding around handing out waters, even though water was for sale. It was a nice touch.
The one consistent thing that I did learn at this barbecue festival was that every person I spoke with had the same theme. This BBQ lifestyle was all about family and friends. From brother’s, cousin’s, 2nd cousins, children, spouses and grandmothers; every contestant displayed some type of family atmosphere. All of them mentioned that without the support of family and faith in the product, they would not be where they are today. Most felt blessed. Spend one minute talking with these contestants and you will get it! Even though they work long hours to produce their products and work at these festivals they didn’t care at all about the long hours and hard work. They cared about how much it bonded their families. This consistent family pride carried over to the event guests. Understand, BBQ at this level is a lifestyle.
Sometimes when trying to get information to communicate to the public, you hit a brick wall. The Professional KCBS competitors were less than receptive to speak with me. They were preparing BBQ all day to be judged for a large amount of cash and didn’t give a damn who I was! The best I could do would be to come back after 4pm and maybe they would give me a minute. They didn’t seem to be a part of the “two tickets for a sample” crowd and do to another assignment, I was unable to try my luck at 4pm. But I did get a list of the competition results:
Overall BBQ Competition BBQ Chicken
- Loot and Booty Big Papa Smokers
- Lady of Q Lady of Q
- Blaze’s BBQ Loot and Booty
- Big Papa Smokers Smokin it Up
- Hickory and Spice Hickory and Spice
BBQ Pork Ribs BBQ Pork
- Ridge Route Boys Big Papa Smokers
- Loot ad Booty Smokin Hearts
- Toot and Stinky’s Loot and Booty
- Cali Q Toot and Stinky’s
- Lady of Q DG Fire House
- Team Woodshed Grand Champion – Loot and Booty
- Blaze’s BBQ People’s Choice – Team Awesome
- Brisket Brother’s
- Simply Marvelous
- Thank the Lard
There was a group of BBQ competitors that stayed for Sundays events, as most others bailed Saturday night to cook another day. The Grand Champion award was decided by “Professional” BBQ judges. But the People’s choice award was chosen by the people. The People’s Choice Award ballot had the following choices:
7 Sin BBQ Blue Eyed BBQ Revin it Up BBQ Westgrove Smokehouse
Team Woodshed Twisted Brisket BBQ Yard Lobster BBQ Trojan Grill BBQ
7 Sins BBQ
The marketing on this place was good. They had many endorsements and 7 Sins, sounds like I’m gonna really pay for this one. But, sadly I tried the BBQ Rib and it was too sweet for my taste and the recommended hot sauce was not hot at all. The outer bites had a confusing flavor combo, if confusing is the goal, you hit a home run. But as you got closer to the bone, there was a bit of character. Nothing really stood out flavor wise for me, but I’m sure they have a following as they have won several awards. Follow them at www.7sinsbbq.com/
Blue Eyed BBQ
I tried their Meat and Bacon Slider. The meat was good and flavorful. And it had a nice baconey smoke finish. It was good but there was no flavor catch. Nothing really stood out, but the combination of the meat, sauce, and the bacon made for a nice item. I liked their product, but I wish it had its own unique character. Follow them at https://twitter.com/blueeyedbbq
Revin it Up BBQ
I tried their brisket and it was very tough to eat. To me, brisket should be tender to the bite. My brisket sample had a nice smoke color on the outside, but it had no smoky flavor whatsoever. I was hoping for maybe a nice spicy favorable finish, but there was none to be found. Perhaps I got a sample that was in between batches, I’m not sure. I know they put out a good product because they would not be at such a respected event. Sadly, I caught them on an off time. Follow them through the KCBS web site http://kcbs.us/teams/91892
West Grove Smokehouse
After eating so much meat I decided to try some good old grilled corn. At West Grove Smokehouse they served a corn on the cob wrapped in their signature smoked bacon. I chose the cobles sample and was delighted with the smokiness of the bacon combined with the sweetness of the corn. And a hint of char and that’s good corn! Their brisket was still cooking, so I did not get a sample. But I look forward to crossing their path at some other BBQ festival. Follow them at www.kcbs.us/event/6409/west-coast-bbq-classic
I sampled their pork belly and was very good, crisp and tender. Pork belly is kind of difficult to work with if you haven’t worked with it before. There’s a big fat line in the middle of the belly, but if you just cook it low and slow to render the fat out, it turns into pork candy. And this candy was good! It was full of smoky flavor, not too overpowering and not too salty. And the rub that they used was very mild but it complemented the smokiness of the pork. I tried the house barbecue sauce, it wasn’t hot or spicy, as a matter of fact it had kind of a sweet apple overtone finish. Possibly cut with apples, I’m not really sure. But it was unique. It wasn’t bad but again you got a little spice in the front, but the finish had apple overtones. I hope that’s what they were trying for. I would definitely order this at their restaurant, if they had one! Follow them at https://www.facebook.com/Yard–Lobster–BBQ
Twisted Brisket BBQ
This fun group is out of Costa Mesa Ca, so they had to drive well over 15 minutes to arrive in Hunting Beach. Twisted Brisket is owned by the Rice Family. Rob and Ryan are the pit masters. Then there is the patriarch of the family, Candice. And there is Brent, Kathy, and Myra. Talk about family oriented, the whole family is involved in this operation! Rob and Ryan are always practicing developing new flavor combination and cooking techniques. But proof is in the product and this product was one of the best at the show. I tried the brisket and was extremely impressed. It had great color and was very tender. It had just enough smoke flavor to not over power but to compliment the meat. Whatever Rob and Ryan are doing; don’t change a thing you have a great product. If it works, don’t fix it! Follow them at www.twistedbrisket.com
Team Woodshed won the best in the BBQ Brisket Category. As they should have. There was a lot of good BBQ brisket at the festival, but Team Woodshed won an extremely difficult category to compete in. The Woodshed is firstly a purveyor and distributor of SHARPE fine cooking woods. They have 12 different varieties for the discerning chef. They also promote Santa Maria Grills which are hand built to order. These are the same grills that Team Woodshed uses to prepare their award winning brisket. I have seen them and they are very nice. They also have the competition side of the business managed by Cousin Renea and Cousin Steve. Team Woodshed has a Hawaiian flare. Bringing traditional Kalua pork and Teriyaki to a BBQ festival was risky, but it worked, and the fans love it. And yes, it is probably the most tender, flavorful Kalua pork I have had the pleasure of eating and the Teriyaki was like meat candy! Yum! Rumor is Patty’s mom is the keeper of the Kalua Pig recipe, so all the kids have to be nice to her! Patty the owner is super nice and holds BBQ instruction seminars on Saturday’s at their location in Orange, CA. Their fans get a chance to get together and learn BBQ techniques that they can take home with them, but mostly, to be a part of the BBQ family. Congratulations on your win! Follow them at http://www.thewoodshedoc.com
Trojan Grill BBQ
“2 City Girls Smoking Good Ol’ Country Barbecue” That is their catch phrase. And these girls cook some mean BBQ. Trojan Grill BBQ is family owned and operated. They have the whole family working! Again that family theme runs strong with this community. Nikki is the Executive Chef and Portia is the Pit Master. Nikki and Portia had a passion for entertaining and cooking. In 2014, they decided to launch their own BBQ business. They compete in BBQ cook offs and are also available for catering and special events. Their products and level of service has put them on the culinary map. And with good reason, I only tried the brisket, Damn the bad luck, I should have saved more tickets! But the brisket was so delicious and flavorful. I tried it with their house BBQ sauce and the flavor combination was perfect. Another unique thing I noticed was most competitors give you slices of tri tip or brisket, but these ladies partially shredded the meat, giving it more surface area to increase flavor. Nice touch! The brisket had a nice smoky flavor in the beginning, but with the spices and the BBQ sauce the finish was awesome. Just like a full bodied wine. Pitmasters strive to achieve this balance of flavors. Too much smoke and the flavor balance is off, too much seasoning or a less than robust BBQ sauce will harm good brisket. They have mastered this product. I do want to give a shut out to Nick otherwise known as Faulty. I asked why do they call you Faulty, he said “I’m named Faulty because I’m everything but!” Faulty is a valuable part of the team. All of you continuing making low and slow good BBQ. I look forward to trying the rest of your BBQ products in the future! Follow them at www.trojengrillbarbecue.com
Due to mostly Kansas City style sauces at the show, I was hunting for some good old hot and/or tangy profile sauce. I passed by the Infinity Sauces booth and figured what the heck, I’ll bite. I say this because I have sampled many homemade sauces, Hot, sweet, sour, unique and the proverbial insanity hot. Most of these sauces were fair to poor with only a few sifting to the top. Owner John Kessler of Infinity Sauces got the memo. His sauces are both unique, balanced and full of character. That is what a sauce is supposed to do. Just let it pick up the character of the food and not to dominate the flavor. If I wanted domination of flavor, I would order a cup of sauce and sip it like soup as I’m not going to taste anything else it touches. John started this adventure when he realized he had too many Habanero peppers growing in his back yard. So he decided to craft a line of brilliant hot sauces. Friends would say “this is good; you should open a restaurant” John said “you’re crazy”. As a result, John has a line of over 9 different sauces. Ranging from mildly hot to wonderfully hot. His hotter sauces incorporate fresh Ghost Chili’s. That being said, John has won several awards for his products including the following: www.infinitysauces.com
2014 – His Chipotle Sauce won Best Hot Sauce and Best Overall Condiment at the OC Fair.
2015 – His Scorpion Monkey won Best Hot Sauce at the OC Fair
2016 – His Ghost Monkey Sauce won Best Hot Sauce, Best Condiment and The Judges Choice Award at the OC Fair. A trifecta of sauciness. Congratulations John, I did purchase the Scorpion Monkey and I have used half a bottle in two days! Follow John at
The main stage filled the event with all types of music. Friday was Country and Blues featuring Big Bad Rooster and Pickleback Shine. Saturday had a 10 band Reggae band line up ending with Pato Banton, formally with General Public. I was able to listen to Spliff Vision and Roots of Mine. Both bands soothed the smoky crowd. Check them out on Facebook. Sunday was a day filled with classic rock. The Main Thing started the day off with Classic Era Rock and Roll. The band was good the only thing missing was the pop and clicks of a needle on some vinyl. The next band, Wumbloozo got my attention. These guys were good. I plan on going to one of their shows after this event. Follow them at www.wumbolooza.com
Watermelon Eating Contest
Lisa won the watermelon eating contest. Edging out the other 9-year-old contestants. Congratulations on your win. But know, some little child will be training to come back next year and take the prize. I would expect a challenge next year!
I look forward to meeting these talented Pit Masters and their families again as I continue to write about food and what’s going on in Orange County. The sun is setting and the smoke is dying down. Venders and Pit Masters are closing up to prepare for another day. I want to thank American Family Housing and the City of Huntington Beach for hosting this Festival. It is a rare occasion you get to eat great BBQ and have a cold beer while looking at the waves crash down in the sand. Until next event, Peace Out!
Huntington Beach Events calendar is filled with beach activities and events information. Concerts, Art Afair craft fair at Friday Farmers Market Pier Plaza, parks, Surf City Nights on Tuesdays, car shows, and special events such as Concours d’Elegance, US Open of Surfing and Cruise of Lights are annual events held in Surf City, California. http://www.huntingtonbeachevents.com/calendar.html
HUNTINGTON BEACH/MIDWAY CITY, Calif. (AUGUST 10, 2016)—American Family Housing (AFH)—a nonprofit organization dedicated to permanently ending the cycle of homelessness, received over $155,000 in sales and donations from its 5th annual Ribs, Pigs and Watermelons—Professional BBQ Competition, Music Festival and Car Show held August 5-7 at Huntington State Beach.
Attended by more than 5,000 people, Ribs, Pigs & Watermelons raised funds expressly for the construction of American Family Housing’s sustainable housing project, Potter’s Lane. This eco-friendly housing project will provide permanent housing for chronically homeless veterans utilizing innovative construction methods that include the upcycling of steel shipping containers
to create 16 beautiful 480-square-foot living spaces. The project takes a new approach to homelessness by first providing veterans and low-income families with a stable home, and then offering support services to help them re-enter the workforce and better manage their future wellbeing.
“Our BBQ fundraising event was a rousing success, and we appreciate the efforts of all the professional barbecue teams, our amazing sponsors, our fabulous volunteers and the more than 5,000 attendees who participated in the event,” said Donna Gallup, American Family Housing president and CEO. “It was a fun weekend full of great food and music that brought awareness to the pressing need for innovative solutions to address Southern California’s very real problem with homelessness.”
Thirty-five professional BBQ teams participated in the barbecue competition by entering their best meals into four categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork and brisket. Places were awarded for each category, and the grand champion was Loot N’ Booty BBQ, a team from Scottsdale, Ariz. led by pit master, Sterling Smith. The reserve champion and third and fourth place finishers were as follows:
· Lady of Q – Reserve Champion
· Blaze’s BBQ – Third Place
· Big Poppa Smokers – Fourth Place
The event also featured an all-day reggae music festival on Saturday featuring some of the most noted reggae bands in Southern California including Pato Banton and the Now Generation, Arise Roots, Ital Vibes, CAL1FA and Special Blend. Friday evening included music from country music bands, and on Sunday guests were treated to classic rock favorites and a vintage car show.
Sponsors of the event included: Wells Fargo, Navco, Pacific Premier Bank, Rainbow Environmental Services, Republic Services, Hub International, U.S. Bank, Southwest Toyota Lift, G&M Oil Co., Janus Network, Buyers Access, HW Senior Living, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Don Wood Auctions and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.
For more information about the event, or to directly support American Family Housing, visit www.afhusa.org.
ABOUT AMERICAN FAMILY HOUSING: Founded in 1985, American Family Housing (AFH) is a nonprofit organization that provides a continuum of housing and a broad spectrum of services to vulnerable populations facing barriers to achieving housing stability, including war veterans and adults with disabilities and mental illness. Operating 63 housing sites, with 283 units that serve more than 1,300 adults and children each year in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, AFH is committed to permanently ending the cycle of homelessness, helping low-income families and adults achieve a self-sustaining way of life and become active members of their communities. Follow American Family Housing onFacebook, Twitter, Instagram andLinkedIn and visit www.afhusa.org for more information.
Photography: Peter Peterson
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211