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Oak Harbor turns into Hog Heaven

Dan Willard, 5, reaches for a sample from ShoNuff Foods, one of five professionals who competed in the pork-cooking contest in Saturday’s Fidalgo Avenue Block Party and Free Pig Roast in Oak Harbor. - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Dan Willard, 5, reaches for a sample from ShoNuff Foods, one of five professionals who competed in the pork-cooking contest in Saturday’s Fidalgo Avenue Block Party and Free Pig Roast in Oak Harbor.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

It was hog heaven for the estimated 4,500 pork-lovers who crashed the Fidalgo Avenue Block Party and Free Pig Roast in Oak Harbor Sunday.

With attendance up by about 1,500 from last year’s shindig, and up to $12,000 raised for four local nonprofits, organizers are calling the fourth installment of the annual event a roaring success, even if was a bit stressful at times.

The block party kicked off at about noon and almost from the start, hungry lip-smackers eager for the best free lunch in town began to form a line that would eventually stretch along Fidalgo Avenue, around the corner, and up Dock Street.

“It stayed like that for hours,” Scott Fraser said, an event organizer and owner of Frasers Gourmet Hideaway in Oak Harbor.

Designed to be fun for all ages, the block party seemed to offer a little something for everyone. Adults enjoyed live music and the beer garden while perusing the wares of vendors or admiring the skill of Whidbey chainsaw artists.

Children certainly weren’t lacking in the fun department, either. Whether they were playing on the blowup toys and climbing wall, getting sticky in pie-eating contests or laughing at silly L-Bow the clown, their shrieks of laughter were hard to miss.

But, of course, the free food and pork-cooking contests were the main attraction and seemed to be enjoyed by all. Some admitted they had been drooling in anticipation since the night before.

“I drove by and got a whiff,” said Chris Willard, an Oak Harbor resident who came with his family.

Willard, a barbecue lover,  said his family came to last year’s event too late and missed out on the pork. They made sure to be on time this year and were among the first to sample from the professional and amateurs participating in the barbecue contests.

“I like the third one,” 5-year-old Dan Willard said, pointing to J.D.’s BBQ.

Judges agreed, awarding J.D. Krueger of J.D.’s BBQ first place in the professional competition. ShoNuff Foods came in second and Smoke Tree BBQ took third, though ShoNuff earned first in the People’s Choice category.

New this year was the amateur competition. Coupeville resident Steve McCalmont, representing the Oak Harbor Fire Department, earned first-place honors.

He said the department was competing largely due to a challenge issued by another island fire district. However, they weren’t able to attend, so McCalmont said even if his home-cooking hadn’t scored with the judges he would have felt like a default winner.

“To win among the other folks, that was just icing on the cake,” he said.

Oak Harbor resident Daniel Cosper’s ribs earned second while Greg Johnson came in third. The amateurs were not scored by the public, only the judges.

Proceeds for the event are still being tallied, but Fraser said it appears it earned somewhere between $11,000 and $12,000. Like last year, it will be divided among four local nonprofits: North Whidbey Help House, Whidbey Island Share a Home, Youth Dynamics, and the Medical Safety Net of North Whidbey.

Fraser also wished to thank sponsors who helped make the event possible. Flyers Restaurant and Brewery donated all the beer for the beer garden while Island Thrift and a handful of others were major contributors.

“We could not put this on without the support of our local businesses,”

he said.

 

 

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