Jim’s Judgment Day: Part One – Pork
Posted by cmh gourmand on August 5, 2009
On August 4th, I had the fortune to be a judge for the Ohio Pork Producers Council’s BBQ contest at the Ohio State Fair. I was excited about this for many reasons including a free ticket and free parking at the fair. I have not had a chance to BBQ judge in over a year so I was worried that for the want of piles of pork my skills might have waned. I was joined by an all-star cast of judges. Adam Clements and I saved our leftovers from judging (my dog was so happy to see me!) and monitored each others physical and mental health during the grueling judging process.
BBQ judging is not all fun and games. Sampling nine sets of ribs and ten samples of pulled pork is a act of intestinal fortitude and determination. We were also aware of the strong possibility of a thunderstorm expected during the middle of the contest. Johnny D. had to do a live broadcast from the judges table at some unknown time so we were all afraid of being caught with our mouths full of food and sauce covering our faces while being asked questions. We risked sunburn and ran low on handi-wipes. Yes, people may call us heroes but someone has to do it.
Pork cooking competitors varied from veteran restaurant cook teams to two friends that just started cooking out of their garage with a green egg smoker. Entrants came from all over the state and all over Columbus. I am certain that I had the best pork rib ever and that team won. It is probably best (from a cardiac standpoint) that the winning ribs are not available in Columbus. The winners of the best ribs and best pulled pork categories received banners and $1000.
The judges were joined by Kristen, this year’s royalty. She only had ribs once before coming to the fair. We forgot to ask where she hails from in Ohio, but when it is discovered, I am going to have BBQ ribs airlifted to that community. It appears that Kristen has been deprived of some critical elements of life in Ohio…..pork.
File under random Ohio State Fair notes and observations – no judgments intended.
Speaking of pork….. Here is the Hungry Woolf report on the fair
The fair could be renamed Porkapolooza. Pork products and promotions were everywhere.
Social Media is all the rage and the Pork Council is on it with their own blog – Porktastic. This site includes a recipe for Pork and Apple Pie. Oh My!
Take an online tour of a hog farm – Ohio Pork Tour.
Ohio State Fair equals food: funnel cakes, fair fries, lemon shake ups, etc. While these things are all tasty, you can help the fair accomplish its mission by eating Ohio products. The Taste of Ohio Cafe is a good place to dine (and soak in some free air conditioning). Concessions are set up to serve fresh Ohio Beef, Pork, Poultry and Dairy (including Ohio cheese sandwiches and Velvet Ice Cream – this years flavor du fair….kettlecorn.).
I also noticed something unexpected. Oscar Mayer Lunchables, (which get some bad marks as a source of lunch for kids) had a large activity oriented exhibition at the fair. They had activity leaders running the kids all over the place doing agility courses and helping with this big Oscar Mayer Tower to climb on (seemed to scare the heck out of kids and parents alike).
A final note. It is easy to forget but Ohio is a farm state and that is why the State Fair started, so follow the advice on the trailer below.