Just because temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the grill. The Smoke-n-Fire Food Fest, which takes place on October 12 at Provident Bank Park in the village of Pomona, celebrates the end of the barbecue season. “There are other annual food festivals in other counties,” says festival creator Kendell Brenner, referring to gatherings like Ulster’s Garlic Festival, “but Rockland doesn’t have anything that could become an annual event. I think it’s something we need.”
Brenner — who teaches culinary classes at Rockland BOCES and owns Jordan’s Hot-Cha Waa-Cha hot sauce company — originally planned the day to be a chili fest, but later decided to focus on barbecue. “Since it’s our first year, we want to draw vendors in, instead of restrict and limit them,” he explains. Both local establishments — like Haverstraw’s Union Restaurant — and a few from New Jersey and Pennsylvania will serve their best grilled concoctions. The festival also hosts spicy food eating competitions, and will award a $250 prize to the chef who makes the hottest dish. A band, stilt walker, and fire juggler are slated to entertain the kids while adults can hang out in the craft beer garden.
Although the festival is still in its infancy, the site can accommodate 2,000 guests; plans for next year are already in the works. “We’ve already got the dates booked, and we’re trying to add tethered hot air balloon rides right from the stadium,” says Brenner. “I have a lot of creativity in my brain, so we’re trying to put it to good use.”
Admission is $5, with vendors charging separately for their creations. A portion of the proceeds benefit Baking Memories 4 Kids, an organization that sells homemade cookies to raise money for terminally ill children; the funds go to all-expenses-paid Florida vacations for the kids and their families.
The fun starts at 11 a.m. and goes until 7 p.m. Visit www.nyfoodfest.com for more information.