Pig roast rakes in thousands of people and dollars

Andrew Blas, 2, chews on his fork while his older sister, 4-year-old Emma Blas, enjoys a sampling of barbecue pork from one of eight vendors at Sunday
Andrew Blas, 2, chews on his fork while his older sister, 4-year-old Emma Blas, enjoys a sampling of barbecue pork from one of eight vendors at Sunday's third annual Fidalgo Avenue Block Party and Free Pig Roast in Oak Harbor.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

Thirteen-hundred pounds of barbecue and an estimated 3,000 people later, organizers are calling the third annual Fidalgo Avenue Block Party and Free Pig Roast the most successful yet.

The live music, pie and hotdog eating contests, hypnotist, clown, wood carver, climbing wall, and of course the competition between the island's best barbecue chefs resulted in a record $12,000 being raised for four local charities.

Scott Fraser, event organizer and owner of Frasers Gourmet Hideaway, said he knew the block party would do well but bringing in $2,000 more than the $10,000 earned in 2009 was a welcome surprise.

"To be able to raise $12,000 was beyond our expectations," Fraser said.

Indeed, Sunday's overcast skies seemed to do little to dampen public enthusiasm for the event. The party was scheduled to kick off around noon, but was well under way by the time the clock struck 12 p.m. Mobs of children were scaling the climbing wall and bouncing on the blowup slide, and more than a few adults already had greasy fingerings from their sampling of the barbecued goodies being prepared by eight local chefs.

For some, the free barbecue sampling and competition did as much to curb their appetites as it was a source of inspiration. Tom Phelps, an amateur griller visiting from Huntingtown, Md., quizzed each and every chef on what kind of wood they used to grill their pork.

With so many new ideas, Phelps said he couldn't wait to get home to his Big Green Egg, a grill his wife, Rosemary Phelps, called the "Cadillac" of home-smokers and grills.

But for others, the mouth-watering pork being passed out in little plastic cups was a reminder of things even closer to the heart.

"It tastes like Daddy's," said Emma Blas, a 4-year-old Oak Harbor resident whose father is stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

And while the public obviously enjoyed eating the greasy treats, the chefs seemed to enjoy preparing it just as much. Gene Watson, owner of Whole "E" Cow BBQ Company, has been barbecuing for more than 20 years. Seeing the enjoyment his food gave others made the event extra fun, he said.

"I love it; this is great," Watson said.

Roger Anglum, an event organizer and the owner of Smoketree BBQ, said he also thought the block party was going especially well. Just two hours after its start he accurately predicted that all 1,300 pounds of pork would be cooked before the day's end.

Anglum also proved himself a master chef. Smoketree took first place in the people's choice category, while Deandre Bennett of ShoNuff Foods took second. ShoNuff also earned second place in the professional judges' competition, while J.D. Krueger of J.D.s BBQ took first.

Fraser said the barbecue competition was such a success that it not only earned a permanent place in the annual block party, but that next year's event may feature an amateur competition as well.

Putting on the block party is no easy task. Fraser said over a hundred people worked to put on this year's event, from individual volunteers to members of the planning committee. Equally important was the support from the following local businesses: Island Thrift, Flyers Restaurant and Brewery, Whidbey Island Bank, New Leaf, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, P and L Construction, Albertsons, and Saar's Market Place.

"We can't do it without everyone in the community helping out so my thanks goes out to them," Fraser said.

Half of the event's proceeds will go to North Whidbey Help House, while the second half will be distributed between the Make a Wish Foundation, Youth Dynamics, and the Medical Safety Net of North Whidbey.

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