This weekend’s Summerfest will have a Western theme, complete with a barbecue cookoff.
The annual event, sponsored by the Downtown Aberdeen Association, will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Broadway and Wishkah streets.
Maps will be available for the Scavenger Hunt at the Summerfest information booth in the City Center Drug parking lot. Thirty-three downtown businesses will each place a small picture of a barbecue grill somewhere within their stores. When a visitor spots it, a shop representative will stamp their map.
Visitors who turn in maps with a minimum of 24 stamps will be eligible for prize drawings at noon, 1 and 2 p.m. Prizes will include gift cards from several downtown businesses, including the Aberdeen Art Center and Billy’sBar & Grill.
The food vendors will be Sgt. Brand’s BBQ, Oh My Donuts, Tinderbox, Dog Masters and Pizza Hut. The Downtown Aberdeen Association also will be selling popcorn and snow cones.
The barbecue cookoff, sponsored by Swanson’s Foods, will be staged at the City Center Drug parking lot. As of Tuesday evening, eight teams had signed up to compete, including one led by Mayor Erik Larson and another by County Commissioner Randy Ross.
Each team will have to produce barbecued chicken, pork ribs, and a “mystery meat” to be unveiled the morning of the event. Some, but not all, will be making beans for judging as well.
But while the aroma of barbecue will be strong, don’t expect to be able to sample the contestants’ concoctions.
“In order to have the community actually taste the food, the Health Department rules are much more stringent. It’s easier just to have judges do that,” said co-organizer Bobbi McCracken. “So we have barbecue for people to purchase (from Sgt. Brand’s booth) rather than get these little samples.”
The judges are Andy Bickar, owner and chef of Rediviva; Jaime Matisons, food service director for the Aberdeen School District; and Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate.
Each team will have to turn in a box at the appointed time with enough of each food for three judges. The judges will not know which boxes came from which team.
The official judging criteria take up about three printed pages. Among the elements not allowed in the contestants’ entry boxes are alcohol, live animals and pyrotechnics/flames.
“I took these rules from some national contest,” said McCracken, laughing. “You have to wonder what these contests have been like!”
The cookoff winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. First prize comes with $250, second prize $150 and third place $75.
“We’re also going to have some fun, friendly competitions during the day for the barbecuers themselves, since they’re going to be there five or six hours,” said co-organizer Bette Worth.
Summerfest attendees can shop 15 vendors selling everything from homemade tote bags to home décor items. In addition, some downtown businesses will hold sidewalk sales during the event.
A people’s choice award will be given for the best decorated booth. “We’re also encouraging the barbecuers to decorate their space,” said Worth.
The Aberdeen Fire Department will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering demonstrations and fire truck tours. Kids also will be allowed to try their skills at putting out a pretend fire with real firefighting equipment.
The Police Department also will be there with a Citizen Patrol car for kids to check out.
Greg Zschomler will act as deejay for the day, playing country/Western music in keeping with the overall theme.
Games for the kids are being organized by the Timberland Regional Library children’s staff. In addition, there will be a magician and balloon animal maker.
Also planned are a watermelon-eating contest at 12:30 p.m. and line dancing taught by Brenda Parks from Rockin’ Deuce starting at 1:30.
All activities are free.