Fort Ritchie is host to weekend Pignic, featuring music, arts and lots of charcoal barbecuing

May 21, 2013|By AMY DULEBOHN |
  • Eric Forrester demonstrated some pork grilling techniques Monday, May 20, at Mason Dixon BBQ Services near Greencastle, Pa. Forrester organized the inuagural Pignic barbecue festival at Ft. Ritchie.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

FT. RITCHIE — If you ask Eric Forrester, he will say barbecue is an art form. And Forrester, owner of Mason-Dixon BBQ Services near Greencastle, Pa., promised there will be plenty of art at the Memorial Day Pignic on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, at Fort Ritchie.

The inaugural two-day event will feature its own arts festival, a music festival, and three barbecue competitions.

“Barbecue is very American. That’s why people enjoy it so much. There are very few American forms of culinary art,” Forrester said.

Cooking over charcoal takes a little bit of skill, he said. And it is much more involved than just cooking meat. A pork butt or brisket can take 12 to 14 hours to prepare.

“Anybody can fire up a gas grill. (Charcoal barbecuing) makes you slow down a little bit,” Forrester said.

There will be times of slowing down and times of fast action at the Pignic, he said.

“(People will see) a lot of meat lying around. There will be a lot of fervent activity, and then a lot of sitting around,” he said. That’s typical of barbecue events.

Included in the weekend festivities will be the Maryland State Championship BBQ Competition from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 26. This will feature professional teams from around the Mid-Atlantic region, some of which have been on “BBQ Pitmasters,” a reality TV series on Destination America.

Teams will prepare chicken, ribs, brisket and pork. Judging will be done by officials from the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Competition will be intense, he said.

“You can see how seriously folks take this stuff,” Forrester said.

For the not-ready-for professional grilling set, a Backyard Bash BBQ Competition is also being offered. Forrester said that he has lots of people who come to his store and say that they could produce barbecue to rival that of the professional set, and this event will give them the chance to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. Some $1,500 in cash prizes will be awarded to amateur competitors who prepare ribs and chicken on site using charcoal grills. Judging for the event will be by KCBS judges. That competition will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Also included will be a Kids’ Q, where children in two age divisions — 11 and younger; and 12 to 16 — will compete. These participants will be teamed with a pitmaster and will cook beef and a dessert, both over charcoal. Forrester said applications for this event will be accepted through Thursday, May 23. There will be about $500 awarded in prizes in the Kids’ Q, and all participants will receive a trophy, medallion and T-shirt. This competition takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

An Iron Chef’s Choice Competition is set for 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Forrester describes this as “a fun competition” for professionals. Iron Chef’s Choice barbecuers will have the chance to cook anything they choose, as long as it doesn’t include meat. Like on the popular TV show of the same name on Food Network, the twist is that a secret ingredient must be included. Forrester revealed that the additive is rum, and expects that many of the barbecues will create dishes such as grilled rum peaches, bread pudding and rum cake.

“(The results are) going to be real interesting,” he said. “A lot of these guys are really good cooks.”

For the past three years, Forrester said he organized an event called Smoketoberfest, which was basically a barbecue event. He said Smoketoberfest attracted about 5,000 people, and he is hoping for more this weekend at Pignic.

In addition to the barbecuing competitions, Forrester said there will be 20 food vendors on hand selling everything from barbecue to Belgian waffles. Also featured will be a beer garden, a car show, motorcycle ride, paddleboat races and the Makin’ Bacon 5K and 10K races and a 1-mile fun run. Prizes will be awarded for 5K and 10K runners who eat the most bacon while running the final kilometer of the events.

The event benefits Make-a-Wish Foundation. At dusk on Saturday, Make-A-Wish will work with the Washington County Community Action Council to create Project Lily. The goal is to float more than 2,000 candle-lit lilies onto Lake Royer as the sun sets. Each lily will be in memory of a veteran or fallen soldier. As the lilies are floated onto the lake, the names will be read in front of a color guard. In the background, taps and other patriotic music will be played.

If you go ...

WHAT: Memorial Day Pignic

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 25 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 26

WHERE: Fort Ritchie, 200 Castle Drive, Cascade

COST: Admission is $8 per carload

CONTACT: Call 717-816-7252 or go to

MORE: Features three barbecue competitions, vendors, beer garden, music, arts, car show, motorcycle ride, Project Lily and more

Schedule of events for the Pignic

Saturday, May 25

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Backyard Bash BBQ Competition

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Kids’ Q

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Arts festival

10 a.m. to 10 p.m. — Music

9 a.m. to 10 p.m. — Sam Adams beer garden

10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Western Maryland Paddlefest

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. — Kidz Zone Play Area

10  a.m. to 4 p.m. — Classic car and truck show

5 p.m. — Iron Chef’s Choice Competition begins

7 p.m. — Project Lily

Music — Saturday, May 25

10 a.m. — Kelsey Abbott, modern country

11:30 a.m. — High Noon, Southern rock/country

1 p.m. — The B-Side Band, soul funk set

2:30 p.m. — The B-Side Band, classic rock set

4 p.m. — Pocket Deep, blues

6 p.m. — Dividing Face, rock

8 p.m. — The Reagan Years, ’80s covers

Sunday, May 26

7 to 10 a.m. — Makin’ Bacon 5K/10K and fun run

9 to 5 p.m. — KCBS professional competition

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Wish Ride

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Arts festival

Noon to 5 p.m. — Beer garden

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Kidz Zone Play Area

Music — Sunday, May 26

11:30 a.m. — Twin Hill Express, Christian/country/bluegrass

1 p.m. — Tuxedo Drive, ’80s and ’90s covers

2:30 p.m. — Cosette Gobat, country singer-songwriter

4 p.m. — Pocket Deep

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