Congregation Beth El hosts Kosher Barbecue Festival

Residents of Southern New England — especially those who happen to be lactose intolerant — have cause to rejoice: a massive barbecue contest and festival is coming, and there will not be a single dairy product in sight.

Barbecue enthusiasts, meat lovers, and families and individuals in search of good food and entertainment will have much to enjoy at the Southern New England Kosher Barbecue Championship and Festival, coming to Fairfield this September.

Mitch Podob of Easton is president of Congregation Beth El in Fairfield, where the event will take place, and part of the kosher barbecue committee.

“We are thrilled to host what promises to be an enormously successful event in Fairfield,” Mr. Podob said. “Beth El is a vibrant, community-minded organization that is excited to welcome families from all walks of life, from Connecticut and beyond, to share in lots of good food and good fun.”

It’s part of a barbecue circuit that winds through Westbury, N.Y., Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta, Ga. and Kansas City, Mo., among other cities, according to Warren Rockmacher, kosher barbecue committee executive co-chair.

“This is a serious competition for diehard barbecue enthusiasts as well as casual backyard grillers, sanctioned by the World Kosher Barbecue Championship in Memphis, Tenn.,” he said.

On Sunday, Sept. 7, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., dozens of teams of barbecue enthusiasts and hungry connoisseurs will converge in Fairfield for a day-long contest of cookery to be judged by certified judges. Trophies will be awarded to the top teams for Best Brisket, Best Beef Ribs, Best Chicken and Best Chili. The event is sanctioned by the New England Barbecue Society and will be under strict kosher supervision.

Touted as a highlight of Fairfield’s year-long 375th anniversary celebration, the event is being hosted by Congregation Beth El at 1200 Fairfield Woods Road, Fairfield. It is planned as a kick-off event for what will eventually be an annual fair.

“We have approximately 30 barbecue teams, food eating contests, kids’ play zones and activities, local TV and radio stations broadcasting on site and a unique gathering of top artists,” Mr. Rockmacher said.

“There will be great entertainment throughout the day, performers from The Harlem X-Press, School of Rock, Rock Godz, the Dechamplain Trio, and Pete & Chris Amusements, the Northeast’s only two-man magic show will be there, among others. People will also have a chance to learn Israeli dance with Leng.”

The artisan vendors will be an eclectic bunch. They include: Beading Adventures, handcrafted beaded jewelry; Bradley Mountain Soaps, herbal and goat milk soaps and salves; Coastal Creations, sea glass, shell, driftwood and stone art; Creations by Susan, semi-precious stone, pearl and wire jewelry; Elaine’s Gourds, birdhouse gourds; Enchanted Environments, unique potted plants; Get A Grip, one-hand salad servers made from cherry, oak and maple, walnut woods; Something Winey, wine stoppers, corkscrews, glass charms; The Flavored Olive, olive oils and vinegars infused with variety of flavors; and many more.

“We’re thrilled that town officials have joined forces with us, both to promote the event through their media as well as to help coordinate police and emergency staff,” said event executive co-chair Don Sharbin. “They have generously arranged for free shuttles to and from the festival to be offered by town public transportation services from area schools’ parking lots, as well as the Metro North train stations in Fairfield.”

The estimated attendance, drawn from similar events in other locations, is more than 3,000 people.

Admission will be a donation of two canned goods. The donations will be brought to Operation Hope, a local food pantry and shelter, to help fill its shelves. The event is open to the general public.

For more information, visit

Don Sharbin and Warren Rockmacher warm up for the Kosher Barbecue Festival at Congregation Beth El.

Don Sharbin and Warren Rockmacher warm up for the Kosher Barbecue Festival at Congregation Beth El.

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