Weekend BBQ festival poses Triple Threat in Harrington

Mike Jarrell of Milton, left, cuts up some ribs with Mark Stallard of Wilmington as they compete in the barbecue competition as the Slower Lower BBQ team at last year's Triple Threat BBQ, Beer and Music Festival in Harrington. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

Mike Jarrell of Milton, left, cuts up some ribs with Mark Stallard of Wilmington as they compete in the barbecue competition as the Slower Lower BBQ team at last year’s Triple Threat BBQ, Beer and Music Festival in Harrington. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

HARRINGTON –– After two successful years of grilling up choice cuts of beef and pork, the Triple Threat BBQ, Beer and Music Festival is returning to the Delaware State Fairgrounds today and Saturday.

Seventy-five professional grill masters and 20 amateurs are competing for the top prize in brisket, chicken, pork and ribs in the event sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

“The key to great barbecue is to grill at a low temperature for several hours. So it takes patience to get it right,” said Robert Trudnak of Warminster, Pennsylvania.

Known as “BBQ Bob,” Mr. Trudnak’s famous ribs take four to six hours at 250 degrees with a dry rub to get the

Robert Trudnak of Warminster, Pennsylvania, known as “BBQ Bob,” will be one of many competitors at this year’s Triple Threat, which starts today at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. (Submitted photo)

Robert Trudnak of Warminster, Pennsylvania, known as “BBQ Bob,” will be one of many competitors at this year’s Triple Threat, which starts today at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. (Submitted photo)

perfect flavor, which he tops off with his signature sauce before putting them back on the grill to let the sauce caramelize.

“It has taken a lot of trial and error to get the perfect blend of spices in the rubs and sauces,” he said. “For lighter meats like pork and chicken, I use a nice balance of sweet and salty. But for beef, I use some richer flavors because the meat can handle it.”

He took home fourth place in a field of 99 competitors in Triple Threat’s brisket competition last year. A competitor for 11 years, he runs a barbecue business called The BBQ Guru.

With up to $20,000 and the state title on the line, BBQ Bob and his competitors will be anxiously awaiting the results from the judges on Saturday, but their opinion isn’t the only one that matters.

Attendees of the Triple Threat can sample barbecue from the competitors and vote for their personal favorite to determine the People’s Choice winner.

People’s Choice judging begins tonight at 6 and Saturday at noon. Tickets will be available for purchase in packs of five, good for five wings and one People’s Choice vote.

“The competition and judging are important but they’re like big parties,” Mr. Trudnak said. “You see old friends and meet new people. Everyone’s always learning new techniques and we’re all willing to help one another even though it’s a competition.”

And knows a thing or two about competing, having won over 200 competitions and being named a Jack Daniels’ World Championship Reserve Grand Champion.

BBQ Bob, like many of the other grill masters, travel to competitions all over the country and even into Europe throughout the year.

“I think people in Europe are getting interested in American food, especially barbecue. So I’ve taught some classes on how to make genuine American barbecue,” he said.

What else is brewing

But the focus this week is on the people of Delaware who, in addition to learning about and tasting the wide variety of barbecues, will also be tasting plenty of local brews. Twenty breweries will be providing more than 60 original craft beers during the weekend.

Sampling tickets are six for $25 and the first 1,000 sample ticket buyers also get a souvenir cup. Extra sampling

Matt Sturgis of Townsend couldn’t resist sharing his pulled pork samples with his 20-month-old daughter Natalie during last year's Triple Threat BBQ, Beer & Music Festival. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

Matt Sturgis of Townsend couldn’t resist sharing his pulled pork samples with his 20-month-old daughter Natalie during last year’s Triple Threat BBQ, Beer & Music Festival. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

tickets can be purchased for $2 each. Craft beer tastings are today from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m. inside the Quillen Arena.

“The tasting has always been a big success here and this year we extended the hours so more people have the chance to join in,” said Danny Aguilar, assistant general manager of the Delaware State Fairgrounds.

While dining and drinking, live entertainment starts tonight with The Bo Dickerson Band at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Entertainment continues Saturday with Country By Night at 11:30 a.m., Joint Chiefs at 3 p.m. and lower case blues at 5:30 p.m.

For those adults who’ve stuffed themselves with barbecue but haven’t made it to the beer sampling, there will be an off-road obstacle course on Saturday. There are a variety of obstacles and attendees are welcome to try their skills and their own four-wheel-drive vehicles on the course.

For those looking to drive out on the beach this summer, 15 Delaware surf tags will be auctioned off Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the Quillen Arena. The tags will be low-digit numbers and the winning bidder will have their choice of three of the best.

Although many of the activities are adult-oriented, kids are welcome at the Triple Threat too. They can check out the food and the carnival rides. Families have the option of either an unlimited ride wristband or pay per ride tickets.

“The event has grown every year so we try to bring in more activities and games the whole family can do together,” Mr. Aguilar said.

Once you’re stuffed and worn out from the rides, there will be plenty of shopping opportunities from local vendors in the Quillen Arena and cooking demonstrations by Haass’ Family Butcher Shop at 6 tonight and 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $5 at the door. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page or www.delawarestatefair.com.

Gates open at 4 p.m. today and 11 a.m. Saturday at the complex off U.S. 13 in Harrington.

“All the major areas of the competition are under cover so we’ll be out here this weekend rain or shine,” Mr. Aguilar said.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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