Barbecue competition planned for Stotzky Park this summer

A barbecue festival is headed for Riverhead in August. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)
A barbecue competition is headed for Riverhead in August. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Think you have what it takes to be crowned the best barbecuer in Riverhead? This summer, locals will have a chance to find out. 

The Long Island Barbecue Championship Festival — organized through Willie B’s BBQ Catering — will be held in late August in Stotzky Park, according to an application approved by the Town Board Wednesday night.

The event will feature live music, concessions and craft and retail vendors, said event organizer John Barci.

Mr. Barci, who is from Babylon, said he was drawn to Riverhead because it is a “hub” of the East End, uniting the two forks and western Suffolk.

“Riverhead is like the capital of Suffolk County,” he said.

The Riverhead event would be part of the annual Empire State Barbecue Championship circuit. Mr. Barci said he hopes it can join existing barbecue contests in Manorville and Brentwood to form a “triple crown” of Suffolk County barbecue contests.

The competition was originally pitched for the downtown riverfront. But Riverhead Business Improvement District president Ray Pickersgill, who said day-long events like the Blues Festival don’t help businesses there, was wary of the festival and talks to hold the festival with a local restaurant fell through.

Mr. Barci said that depending on how well the competition is received, the event could be moved to a larger venue, like the 4H camp off Sound Avenue.

Admission to the festival will be free, Mr. Barci said, though he mentioned a possible “VIP experience.” Those customers would have front row seats to the musical acts, and would get to meet the pitmasters and learn about how to barbecue from the competitors.

The event will be held on Saturday Aug. 30 and Sunday Aug. 31 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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