Big Black Grill and BBQ wins top honors at Fort Ligonier Days
Fort Ligonier may be the historically fixed founding force for Fort Ligonier Days, but, aside from those historical undertones, knives, spoons and forks tend to have a parallel presence during the three-day festival.
This year, the bandstand was a flurry of culinary excitement, as the festival's top food booths were not only heavily frequented, but were also awarded prizes based on best value, appearance, presentation and overall best in show.
This autumn's big winners came in the form of Big Black Grill and BBQ, sponsored by the Laughlintown Community Center, that took first place in three categories, including best value, best appearance and best in show overall.
Owner Tim Snyder jokingly described the business as a “Cinderella story built on smoke and tears.”
The family-operated grilling group from West Newton, has been stewing out some crowd-pleasing pulled-pork and chicken sandwiches for the past three years at Fort Days and are looking forward to a fourth.
Perhaps the biggest secret behind this smoky smorgasbord are the enthusiastic personalities behind the grill.
“This year was great,” said Snyder's wife and cooking accomplice, Stefanie, who had the three blue ribbons proudly on display around the vending booth. “It was amazing.”
The food judges, who are all professors at local community colleges, took care observing and personally tasting the contenders.
Announcing the awards was food booth chairman Vic Smith and entertainment committee chairwoman Sandy Podlucky, who both welcomed the crowd and thanked volunteers, guests, vendors and the WVU band.
“This is the most important part,” said Smith. “The food booths!”
Other runners-up included the Chestnut Ridge Lions and Miss Meatball for best value, Sand Hill Berries and Bethlen Communities for best appearance and the Chestnut Ridge Lions and Kavelak and Bailey Concessions for best food presentation, a category in which Sandhill Berries, sponsored by the Weeders and Seeders of Ligonier, also took a blue ribbon.
“It's just a wonderful, wonderful event,” concluded Smith.
Rebecca Ridinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.