published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Pork reigns supreme
Since 1998, festival has raised $700,000 for charity
MILLARD K. IVES | Staff Writer
Twenty cooking teams took part in the Pig on the Pond festivities in Clermont this weekend that started Friday on Waterfront Park, competing to see whose ribs, briskets, chicken and pork looked better, was the most tender and tasted best.
There were plenty of rides, games, singing, pig kissing and other fun activities at the two-day festival but it was the barbecue and its Florida BBQ Association-sanctioned competition drew the biggest crowds.
Some of the teams sold barbecue to the public.
One team was the Florida Boys out of Groveland. One secret to cooking good barbecue:
"Do the small things right, too," said team member Jady Hill.
There were charcoal and wood grills and smokers.
The names of some indicated they were all about pork, including Smokey's, Matt Daddy's BBQ, Penny's Hawgwash BBQ, Git-R-Smoked and Big Papa's Country Kitchen.
"There's so many great names, I don't know which one to pick," said Robert Jackson, of Minneola, looking with his two children for a good place to eat.
Jackson eventually found Penny's Hawgwash BBQ, of Clermont, and run by Penny and Greg Amann. The Amann also sold Penny's special sauce. They are new to the competition.
"This is something we always wanted to do," Penny said.
Many teams have competed in contests around the country and some had their trophies on display.
Pig on the Pond also offered the Ferris Wheel, Fun Slide, 100 Lights and plenty of amusement rides -- many that swung, dipped, jumped, spun and wobbled with riders screaming with delight.
Children rides and activities were also offered.
And there was a 5K Run/Walk, live music, dancing, a pig kissing booth -- where patrons paid for a smooch -- and a barbecue demonstration where the food was cooked in a smoker that looked more like a giant green egg.
There also was pig racing, maybe the safest place for a pig to run at the festival.
But it was the barbecue that appeared to be the main attraction. New to this year's Pig on the Pond was the Big Papa's Battle at BBQ Junction on the new BBQ Alley stage.
The "battle" was a one-on-one competition between two teams who competed by preparing a dinner -- complete with an appetizer, entrée, side dish and dessert -- created from a bagful of mystery ingredients and grocery items.
"We just have so many good things going on this year," said Pig on the Pond coordinator Cheryl Fishel.
Since the event began in 1998, it has raised almost $700,000 for education. One of Pig on the Pond's goals this year was to raise enough money to award $10,000 scholarships to four local recipients.