One of the great things about living in Las Vegas is we have so many different food festivals that take place over the course of the year.
I love attending since it gives someone like myself a chance to experience a lot of different types of food and cultures. Over the past year we have attended the San Gennaro Italian Food Festival, The Greek Food Festival, Foodie Fest and The World Food Championships.
My favorite was the one I attended this past Saturday – the 2nd Annual Downtown Throwdown BBQ Competition on Fremont Street. It was a two-day event with Friday’s Chili competition and then Saturday’s main event BBQ competition.
I am a big BBQ fan. How can you not like that smoky flavor of slow cooked beef, pork and chicken offerings? The Downtown Throwdown was held on 3rd and Fremont streets and was the best run food festival of all the ones I attended this year.
The organizers of this event made it fan friendly, plus it was free to attend. When going to a food festival it should be all about the food. For me, I want to try as many different foods as possible but too often you are forced, because of price and/or portion size, to limit your choice to just a few items.
That wasn’t the case at the Throwdown. Tickets were $1 apiece and with every five bought you were given a special red ticket used to vote for your favorite vendor’s entry.
The $1 ticket got you a sample at the vendor of your choice. Usually it was a 1 oz sampling of pulled pork or slow cooked beef brisket. But you can’t talk BBQ and not mention ribs. Almost all of the vendors there had an entry in the Rib Cook Off competition.
Getting to sample a rib for just $1 was a steal. They got it right by giving a smaller portion at a great price and including the public in the voting. I was impressed with the BBQ competition in just its second year.
It was great to see how many of the vendors were a complete family run business. One of my favorite vendors was dishing out pulled pork samples for the competition.
The dad was in the back of the tent cooking the meat on his smoker while the mom was out front taking care of the customers. The cutest part of this family team was their little boy all decked out in a pinstriped suit looking like a little mobster carrying a toy gun that dispensed their homemade BBQ sauce.
It was nice to see a true family business like that.
I think the vendors and people who run food festivals can learn something from the Throwdown. If you’re a vendor at a food festival cut the size of your portions and prices. Let the public be able to sample more of all the great foods that are available at these food festivals.
In the end that’s a win-win for everyone involved.
I give the Downtown Throwdown BBQ Competition a rating of 3.75 Forks out of 4.
Marco D’Angelo is the senior handicapper at Pregame.com. He co-hosts FIRST PREVIEW every Thursday at 10 a.m. on ESPN 1100 AM/98.9 FM. Follow him on twitter: @MarcoInVegas. Contact him at [email protected].