Saturday, June 22, 2013

Safeway's National Capital Barbecue Battle - Day 1 Photo Recap

What a great day for a barbecue! Thousands (upon thousands) turned out earlier today for day 1 of the 21st annual National Capital Barbecue Battle (sponsored by Safeway.) Pennsylvania Avenue was shut down between 9th & 14th Streets, providing a majestic background for the ultimate DC barbecue. In case you missed it, don't despair: It's on again tomorrow from 11:00 AM to 7:30 PM.

I arrived just after 12:30 (admission: $12, no reentry... I hope they fix that next year) and the festival was already in full swing. I made a beeline for Safeway's Sampling Pavilion, but couldn't bring myself to wait an hour or longer (at least 30 minutes in the sun) for samples... no matter how tasty they were. Luckily, free food was available all over... if you knew where to look for it.

Long, long lines for Safeway Sampling Pavilion

I'm not big on lines (I hate 'em) but I'll gladly wait 30 seconds or so for the following freebies... Chobani Key Lime Crumble (delicious) Snyder's Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces, chips & hummus from Sabra, King's Hawaiian Rolls (4-pack, nice!) Dr. Oetker Pizza Ristorante and a slew of promo items (bags, bars of soap, potholders, t-shirts.) On the other hand, I couldn't be bothered standing 20 minutes in the sun for less than a scoop of ice cream, and I also wound up passing on a small pack of potato salad.

2nd longest line... for Ben & Jerry's free ice cream

Free yogurt from Chobani

If you wanted free barbecue, your only real alternative was the Sampling Pavilion. I don't know how thousands of people manage to stand in line for so long, but they do. Stranger still, they're probably the same folks who cause a raucous if they see someone with 10 items in the 9 items or less checkout.

Famous Dave Anderson poses for photos

I took the time saved by skipping the Pavilion, to explore. NBA Nation hosted a free throw contest with an appearance by former Georgetown Hoya and current Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green. NBA legend Daryl Dawkins stopped by to oversee the 2:00 PM dunk contest; and kids had a chance to show off their ball-handling skills in between. G-Wiz and the Wizard Girls were also on hand throughout the day.

NBA Nation Ambassador Darryl Dawkins

Boston Celtics' (and ex-Hoya) Jeff Green has a laugh

In addition to great hoops, a number (30 total, over the entire weekend) of various bands performed on three stages (including local reggae artists I&I Riddim.) Go-go legends EU (with Sugar Bear) & Trouble Funk celebrated their 25th and 30th anniversaries respectively later in the evening. To give you an idea of how old I am, I saw both bands when they performed at my high school... at the beginning of their careers. Cue momentary bout of depression.

I&I Riddim put on an amazing reggae show

In a city that continues to grow exponentially as a culinary contender, barbecue is slowly making an impression on its own. Old Glory, Hill Country, Rocklands and one of my favorites Urban Bar-B-Que Company in Rockville are turning the DC Metropolitan area onto "all things barbecue." Just remember where it all started in earnest. See you next year.

World's largest grill from Johnsonville

The Wienermobile

Free potholders & toiletries too, thanks to Colgate Palmolive