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NewEGGlandfest VI - 2013

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Last weekend I went to NewEGGlandfest VI which is a New England regional Eggfest sponsored by Tarantin Industries the New England Big Green Egg Distributor. This was my first Eggfest and I intended for it to serve as a bit of a warmup for what I might see at the big kahuna: Eggtoberfest in Atlanta, GA this coming October. This blog ebtry will describe my impressions of the event specifically, and my first Eggfest in general.

What is an Eggfest:
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An Eggfest can be many things, but it is some or all of these things: a marketing event, a social event, a learning event, cooking competitions, a chance to get some great food, a chance to buy Eggcessories, a chance to mingle with fellow Eggheads and an all around good time. They are each a little different, but they are often sponsored by an Egg dealer, an Egg distributer or the Mothership in Atlanta (in the case of the Eggtoberfest). There are two types of attendees: cooks and tasters. The cooks sign up and cook food all day for the attendees. The company sponsoring the event usually provides new BGE’s for the use of the cooks. At the end of the Eggfest the now used Eggs are sold off at a discount, usually in a package with a Nest (rolling cart/stand), shelves, a Plate Setter and various other items. It is a marketing event because the best way to sell someone a Big Green Egg is to cook them some food on it. So potential BGE purchasers can come to the show and sample a wide variety of food cooked on the Egg. They can also pick the brains of the cooks and other Egg owners. There is often a store setup up on the site with various Eggcessories for sale. There are sometimes various types of cooking competitions. There are also door prizes and swag bags for the attendees.

NEW EGGLANDFEST VI


Who:
The New EGGlandfest VI is sponsored by Tarantin Industries who is the New England distributer for Big Green Egg products. Their facilities are located up and down the East Coast of the U.S. They are involved in a wide range of products associated with propane: heaters, fireplaces, tanks and cylinders etc, They started carrying propane grills and added BGE to their lineup.

Where:
The NewEGGlandfest was held at Tarantin’s regional distribution center in Brentwood New Hampshire. This location is in Southeastern New Hampshire about 20 miles (32 km) away from the New Hampshire seacoast and 20 miles (32 km) north of the border with Massachusetts. As viewed on a map it is somewhat centrally located in the 6 state New England region. For me it was 42 miles (68 km) away and about a 1 hour drive. Not a biggie. I used to drive an hour to work, no problem driving an hour to play.

When:
It seems to fall on a Saturday in mid to late June and this year was a week after Father’s Day.

The Setup:
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Tarantin has a large facility located on a loop road for an industrial parl off of NH 125. The facility has a large field and parking area in the back. This rear parking area was where the cooking areas, circulation and eating areas were located. Tarantin had a BGE themed van parked out at the main road so it made it easy to see the loop road for the industrial park you needed to take. Because the parking lot was used for the Eggfest, there was no parking on site. But where it was Saturday, there was little traffic on the road and you were directed to park anywhere along both sides of the road. You entered the facility from the front corner and you found yourself in a showroom where all of the BGE’ s and Eggcessories were on display. There were even some of the original Eggs imported from Japan in the 70’s. This was clever because it was the first and last thing you saw while at the Eggfest. From there you walked into the warehouse where registration tables were set up, one for folks with tickets and one for walk-ups. After picking up your badge and a swag bag you walked through a main aisle of the warehouse out to the back parking area. Immediately in front of you when you emerged from the rear door was a square covered seating area with tables and chairs. There was judge table running up the left side of the tent and some tables where they served beer. I was surprised to find my ticket entitled me to free drinks all day. Once you walked through the seating/dining area tent there was a large L-shaped circulation space running along the front and left side of the tent.

Cooking Area:
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Beyond the L-shaped circulation area, the cooking booths were arranged in the same L-shape. There were around 20 different outfits cooking. They range from people who just love cooking on their Eggs to several competition teams who compete on the regional or national BBQ circuits.Some of these cooks had been to every NewEGGlandfest and had the t-shirts to prove it. I met one cook who owned his Egg for less than a year and just loved cooking on it and sharing with other people. The typical cooking area arrangement was a 10‘x10’ Ez-Up style popup tent covering a table where the food was laid out and served. Right behind the was an area where people were cooking on one or more Eggs. The competition teams brought all of their own Eggs and gear, which makes sense because it gives them better control and familiarity. In the back, beyond the cooking are were various prep tables or trailers for prep and food storage. As part of a being a cook you get the uses of a BGE. I am not sure what the arrangements are for the larger booths which had multiple Eggs. The show ends at 3:00PM and the loaner Eggs are allowed to cool down and they are sold off with some other Eggcessories at a reduced price. This is a great way to get an Egg that has been used for only 2 days at a discount price. Considering a BGE may last for 20-30 years or more this is a very sweet deal.

Swag Bag:
We were all given a green swag bag plus a NewEGGlandfest t-shirt after we registered. Besides the t-shirt the other items in the bag were a green egg-shaped plastic tray to help hold the food you picked up at the booths, an insulated cup holder. a BGE bumper sticker, a raffle ticket and a ballet where you voted for the People’s Choice Award for best booth.

The Event-Breakfast:
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The event on Saturday started at 9:00AM. The cooks could arrive at 8:00AM to get a head start on things. I arrived in the cooking area around 9:10 and though the crowds were still light, the cooks at most of the booths already had food out. Most of them were cooking breakfast related fare. I had sworn I was going to use restraint so I could last most of the event without eating to much. In fact I was using this smaller event to practice my restraint for when I go to Eggtoberfest in Atlanta. I gotta tell you I failed miserably. This despite the fact that most of the food was served in fairly small sample sized quantities. Between all of the wide variety of great looking food and the enthusiastic cooks pushing to get you to try their creations it was hard to resist. When new food came off the Egg, it was often a raucous event. There was a booth with a firehouse related theme that set off a siren, there was a cowboy themed booth that rang a cowbell, a few booths had folks on roller blades skating around with trays of fresh food calling out what you should try and still other booths had someone shout out what was being served at the top of their lungs. It made for a rather festive atmosphere for all.

I mentioned that the first round of food was breakfast related and it remained so until around 11:00AM. Now I already know very well how versatile the Egg is, but even I was amazed at the range of foods coming off the various Eggs. I tried some breakfast pizzas, breakfast quiche, cinnamon rolls, Capt. Crunch French Toast, and breakfast calzones among other things. Even though I was trying to use restraint I was filling up. Folks were starting to transition over to non-breakfast items by around 10:00 and by 11:00 or so there was no more signs of breakfast food.

The Event-Dr BBQ:
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Ray Lampe aka Dr. BBQ, author of numerous BBQ cookbooks and of late a spokesperson for the BGE was there in the flesh. It looked like he wasn’t there competing with the other cooks so much as just being there to share some food he was making and tell folks a little about the Big Green Egg. I figured he might be there because he had attended some of the previous NewEgglandfests. One of the reasons I got there early was I wanted to ask him a setup question about direct grilling. I have seen a lot of celebrities that just aren’t real pleasant to be around and I really didn’t know what to expect with Dr. BBQ. He introduced himself to me when I walked up, as if I didn’t know who he was. He was just about the nicest most down to earth person I’ve met. He spent lots of time answering my question and actually started asking me questions about myself and where I was from. I was actually trying to ask my question and then leave him alone, but he seemed to enjoy company. I felt like I was talking to one of my BBQ friends and not a celebrity. He was that way with everyone who came by. When I was getting ready to leave I thanked him for his time and he told me to stop back by he was there all day. Turns out he meant it too. I was walking by his booth a little later and he asked me what booths I liked and what was the food I liked at those booths. this happened a couple times and every time we struck up another conversation. All told off and on I probably spent about an hour talking to him. He was a breath of fresh air and I think BGE is lucky to have him as a spokesperson. He is a great ambassador for the Big Green Egg. I very much enjoyed the time we spent.

The Event-Lunch:
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By 11:00AM the crowds had picked up quite a bit. The pictures I have posted here of the venue are from 9:15-9:30 when folks were just waking up and rolling in. They allow you to see the booths without the crowds. By 11:00 the crowds had picked up both in the circulation area and at the eating area. The tables at the eating area had maybe 1 or 2 open seats left at each table. The circulation area was about 50 percent full, still not to crowded but you did have to pay attention to where you were going. The cooks were starting to unveil more “traditional” BBQ fare like ribs, sausages, pulled pork, chicken wings plus pizza, chicken breast and some other typical grilled fare. But the creativity didn’t stop with breakfast. One booth which was actually a group of family and friends ranging from 7 to 70 had an arsenal of Eggs lined up like battleship row. On the last Egg in the row, an XL, they had a whole hog cooking. This small 35 pound hog just fit on the XL, but boy did it have some nice color. A husband and wife BGE competition team called Yabba Dabba Que were making Brisket Empinadas, which were delicious. Later on they made deep fried oreos. Another team who were a family of transplanted folks from Texas who were now living in New England. They had some great pulled pork with their own sauce as well as two types of home brewed beer-an ale and a stout.

The Event-Whole Hog:
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A booth called Chuck Wagon was getting a lot of attention around lunch time for a 35 pound whole hog that was finishing up on an XL BGE. This team had what looked like a battleship row of Eggs at their booth. They had their 7 LBGE’s lined up in a row at the front of their tent with an eight Egg, an XL, at the far end with the whole hog on it. This teams was a group of friends and family that cook on their Eggs together. The age range appeared to be about 7 to 70. This group also had their recipes printed onto a pamphlet for people to take with them. Around lunch time the whole hog was getting close to finishing up and the cooks were lifting the lid to both baste it and check on it’s progress. The hog had wonderful color and was slated to come off the Egg around 1:00PM and rest for around an hour. Sadly I had run out of gas well before then and had started for home.

The Event-Burger Contest:
Another fun event was the burger contest. This was a clever event in that it double as a promotion. All of the burgers had to be made using the new BGE stuffed burger press. As I was leaving many of the teams were preparing their entries and their was a wide range of creative burgers with every type of filling imaginable.

Wrap Up:
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This was a fun, family oriented and creative event and a small taste of what I can expect from Eggtoberfest in Atlanta this fall. I definitely plan to attend next year. I left about 90 minutes before the event wrapped up in the interest of self-preservation, because if I didn’t leave I might have exploded. There were so many varieties of creative food types coming off the Eggs at the show, it was hard not to try a little bit of everything. Even though I tried to use restraint, I didn’t succeed very well-everything looked and smelled so great. Dr. BBQ just laughed when I mentioned how badly I had failed in the restraint department - he said you can’t use restraint at something like this. He may be right. So if your are an Egghead, or are thinking of buying an Egg or know someone who is in the market for a new grill, you should plan on hitting a local Eggfest. The best way to sell someone on the Egg is t cook something for them on it. These festivals help show you all of the creative ways you can use the Big Green Egg.

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