Some people look for the crocuses, others for the forsythias. But for Long Island’s barbecue community, spring’s arrival is confirmed by WilliePallooza, the first big BBQ event of the season. This year it will be held at the Brentwood VFW on April 14 and 15.
WilliePallooza is named for Long Island’s most decorated barbecue champion Will Breakstone (go to williebsbbq.com for more information on the man and his catering company). In addition to a classic four-item, Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned competition, there will also be a chili contest open to anyone who agrees to make their chili on site. According to Breakstone, the definition of chili is pretty elastic. “If you call it chili,” he said, “we’ll call it chili.”
The event is a two-day affair. On Saturday, the competing teams set up their tents and smokers. At 2 p.m. Breakstone will give a master class in smoking ribs; a grilling seminar will be offered at 4 p.m. The chili judging is scheduled for 6 p.m.
On Sunday, turn-ins begin at noon with chicken. Ribs get turned in at 12:30, pulled pork at 1 p.m. and brisket at 1:30. There will also be two additional categories — hot dogs at 2 p.m. and “turn in whatever you want” at 2:30 — that will be judged but whose scores will not affect the competition for Grand Champion. The winners will be announced around 4:30 p.m.
If you’re hungry, vendors will be on hand to sell chili and the teams will usually offer up samples of whatever they’re working on. Throughout the weekend there will be raffles to benefit Breast Cancer Help, Inc. of Bay Shore.
WilliePallooza will accept entries for teams up until April 13. The fee is $200 per team to compete for BBQ only, $25 for chili only. Judges and volunteers are also needed; you'll need to sign up in advance. Find all the details and applications at williepallooza.com. This is a New York State BBQ championship. Read about last year’s results here.
The VFW Post is at 140 Wurz St., Brentwood.
Phil Rizzardi and Scott Owitz, of the team BBQ Brethren, ready two racks of ribs for the judging at the 2011 WilliePallooza in Brentwood.