BBQ was in the air Saturday afternoon at 2016’s BBQ Bash benefitting The Villages Charter School. Thousands of locals and visitor circled Spanish Springs Town Square at a leisurely pace, their hands full of cool drinks and tasty samples of competing recipes of bbq beef, pork, poultry, and side dishes. The event also offered carnival games, face painting, marketplace vendors, stand-up comedy and live music. The privilege of tasting competitors’ BBQ recipes, side items, and drinks could be had for a $5 wristband.
The Lee Ann Noel led her band from behind her drum kit, playing the main stage throughout the afternoon and goading many BBQ tasters to put down their forks and take a dance break with country favorites and familiar line dancing tunes.
At the Road Kill Cafe, aka The Villages Commercial Property Management booth, Carolyn Cass from the Village of Mallory Square asked if the Cafe was an actual restaurant.
“I just did the whole circle, and I was like, ’this is it! this is it!”
She wasn’t alone as many tasters called their BBQ a favorite. The booth also boasted the best chicken wings.
Joe and Diane Marchiando who moved to the Village of Vera Mesa from Sheboygan, Wis., named Dean’s BBQ as their personal favorite because of the mashed potatoes that were mixed into it.
Another group claimed Roadkill Cafe ruled. Former New Jerseyan Bill Compton said, “They’re all really good, but I really liked the chicken down there.” He and his wife Maureen enjoyed the afternoon with a group of neighbors, all from the Village of Buttonwood. They’d all been to every previous BBQ Bash except for Cathy Pearson; this was her first. The rest of them said they mark it on their calendars every year since they almost missed it one year and realized that could never happen again.
Official results were announced at 4 p.m. by co-chairs Tina Robbins and Amanda Isaacs. In the beef category, Artman’s Country Smokehouse took first place, with Wade Surveying in second and The Villages Soccer Club in third.
In the pork category, first place went to Kimley-Horn and Associates, second to Mark Cook Builders, and third to Buffalo P.R.I.D.E. Supporters with Wade Watson picking up the trophy as a representative.
In the poultry category, The Villages Community Property Management won first place, Villages Golf Carts won second and Wade Surveying won third.
Overall Best BBQ went to Artman’s Country Smokehouse. People’s Choice Best Booth Title, judged by the attendees for theme, style, and effort put in to competitors’ booths, went to T & D Concrete.
People’s Choice Best BBQ, based on the amount of money collected at each booth where attendees donated cash based on their liking of each competitor’s recipes, was awarded to The Villages Commercial Property Management, also known as the very popular Road Kill Cafe. Their booth raised over $6,000 that afternoon.
The final award, The Buffalo Nickle, goes to the group that raised the most money on Saturday. T & D Concrete, who won this award last year, repeated their victory, but had no trophy to claim today. “I don’t have it; it’s still down at your office,” Robbins told them.