On Saturday March 5th, we headed up to Punta Gorda, FL for the Punta Gorda BBQ & Music Festival. I had been looking forward to this since my first BBQ Competition in January. One of our friends, Gino, has a BBQ Competition team, All Out BBQ. At first, we were just planning on going to the Festival for fun however, Gino asked if we could come and help him. I was totally stoked and ready to help. We arrived at about 8:45am. The Festival opened at 10:00am and the first turn in was at 11:00am.
First turn in was for chicken. We helped Gino prep his chicken which included a marinade and rub. After the thighs cooked, Gino brushed a light BBQ Sauce over them. The BBQ Sauce was homemade and delish. You could taste hints of peach and spice – neither of which were overpowering. I got to do all the turn-in’s which was awesome. Gino organized his chicken box with 9 pieces and I brought it over to the turn-in area. From Gino’s trailer, the turn-in was about a quarter mile away. The turn in was at 11:00am so you have from 10:55am to 11:05am to get the chicken turned in. I was about the 5th to turn in at 10:55am.
When I got back to the trailer after the turn-in, I got to try a piece of the chicken. I thought it was awesome. The piece was so incredibly juicy and tender. The flavors were throughout but none that were too much. The rub and sauce provided plenty of flavors and just enough spice. I really enjoyed the piece and could have eaten more. Overall rating: 9/10.
After I tried the chicken, I had some time before the next turn in at 12:00pm. I decided it was time for some Deep Fried Oreos. I first tried these at Ziggy Dicks BBQ Festival and simply fell in love with them. The same vendor who sold them there was also selling them here – score! I went up and got my order. They were made fresh to order and arrived covered in a dusting of powdered sugar and chocolate syrup. I received 5 Oreo’s and had to let them cool before digging in. Once I gave them a few moments to slightly cool, I bit in and was in heaven. These are the perfect combination of everything and taste just simply amazing. They use a funnel cake batter which is light but still provides enough taste. The combination of this and the Oreo’s, is killer. Then, add in the powdered sugar and chocolate syrup, and you are set. I ate 4 out of the 5 Oreo’s as Mommy ate the 5th. They were so just so perfect. Overall rating: 10/10.
Next turn in was for Ribs at 12:00pm. Ribs came off the grill and looked like winners. They had the perfect color to them and smelt great. I don’t eat pork, so I did not try them. As Gino was slicing them and making the box, Mommy got to try some of the ribs. She said they were the best ribs she has ever eaten. She said that the meat was so tasty and juicy. The smoke ring on the ribs looked excellent as well. I headed over with the turn-in box and was the first one to arrive. I turned the Ribs in at 11:55am.
After the turn-in, I headed back over to the trailer and started talking pork. Pork turn in was at 1:00pm and the box was going to take a little bit more time to prep. Gino was serving up chopped pork, pork candy, pork rolls and burnt ends in his box. Prepping the box took some time, however, it looked awesome. Mommy tried everything and really enjoyed it all. She got to try her very first burnt end which she said was very, very flavorful. I brought the box over to turn in at 12:55pm and knew it was going to be a winner already. Mommy came to this turn-in with me and we did some walking around before heading back to the trailer.
By the time we got back to the trailer, it was time to get the brisket ready for turn-in. The brisket box included sliced brisket and burnt ends. I was going to try a piece but then somehow, ended up not trying any. I brought the brisket over for the final turn in of the day at 1:55pm. Getting to do all the turn-in’s was a lot of fun. I always made sure I was holding the turn-in box with two hands and not walking too fast. Plus, I got to wear a Competitor Name Badge which was awesome.
We did some walking around the festival and I decided to get some Fresh Cut Fries. I went to the same vendor as the Oreo’s and got the fries. They literally put them in the slicer when you order them and then fry them. These fries were delish. They looked like they were over-done however, they were perfectly cooked. They were lightly seasoned with salt and I also had a ketchup/yellow mustard combo. Most of the fries, I ate without any ketchup/mustard – they were that good. My only complaint is that when I got to the bottom of the basket, there were some really small pieces. I like to eat all the small pieces of things before the big pieces so this was just a personal thing. Overall Rating: 9/10.
Gino ordered some of the Spiral Spuds, also from the same vendor, and they were fresh cut and cooked as well. They take a potato and basically corkscrew it. This creates a large pile of Spiral Spuds which were essentially, potato chips. I tried a few of these and they were very light and crispy. They were someone thinner then potato chips and the consistency was different. I wasn’t a huge fan of these and I am glad I did not order these. They were good and fresh, just not all too tasty. Overall Rating: 7/10.
One of the vendors was selling Fresh Brewed Sweet or Unsweet tea. I am a huge unsweet tea fan and decided to get a glass. For $2 you got 32 ounces of tea. I ordered my tea and tried it right away – a key component when ordered unsweet tea. Well, the tea was gross. It tasted somewhat sweet and somewhat totally weird. I verified with the vendor that it was indeed unsweet tea. They assured me it was and even got me another cup full. Well, it must have just been the tea because it was so gross. Mommy tried some and agreed as well. I ended up just throwing it away…it was that bad. I totally should have gotten lemonade rather than tea. Overall Rating: 1/10.
One of the vendors was selling fresh mini-donuts served a variety of ways. They had a picture up for a Strawberry Shortcake made with the mini-donuts. Mommy decided that this looked good so we got one. They layered the mini-donuts with whipped cream and strawberries. I’m not a fan of whipped cream or strawberries, so I did not try any. I did however try one of the donuts and it was very good. The best thing about it was that it was fresh and not overly flavored. The donut had a nice outside and a good dough taste. I certainly would have ordered a bag of the mini-donuts and had just those. Mommy said the shortcake was good but not great. She said that she would have used fresh strawberries (they used jarred) and a bit less whipped cream. Otherwise, she also liked the donuts as well. Since all I ate was the donut, my rating is just for them. Overall Rating: 8/10.
I got another order of the Fried Oreo’s and sat down for the Awards Ceremony. The second batch of Oreo’s was just as amazing as the first and I could have just keep eating them. I stopped at two orders however, the next time I see that vendor, I will probably up it to three. Gino won 2nd Place Overall in Pork…woo-hoo! Gino finished 15th Overall out of the 28 teams competing. After the awards, we looked over all of the scores with Gino from the different judges. He said the hardest thing is keeping everything looking new and giving the judges tastes they want. Still, 2nd Place in Pork brought with it a $300 check and a big trophy…Go All Out BBQ!
After the awards, it was about 5:45pm. I stopped off to the Kettle Corn Stand and picked up a bag to go. I also got Taylor a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds. I do not eat almonds so I have not tried these however, the kettle corn is quite good. I really love kettle corn…especially when it is hot and fresh. I have been warming up the kettle corn as I eat it at home and this really does the trick. The kettle corn is sweet and salty and tastes really great. Overall Rating: 8/10.
I had a really great time at the Punta Gorda BBQ & Music Festival. The Festival was held at Laishley Park in Punta Gorda which was right on the water. Festival was spread out and the view was excellent. The only bad thing is that all walking around was done on grass as opposed to concrete. I had a great time being the runner for All Out BBQ and eating a ton. I can’t wait for the next competition!