There is a big difference between grilling and barbecuing - and anyone coming to Wildwood this weekend will have a chance to taste what separates the two.
"Grilling is hot and fast, more for steaks and burgers," says Mike Preston, a championship BBQ pit master and member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society. "Barbecue is low and slow - a lower temperature for a longer period of time, for ribs and pork shoulders."
Preston, the tour host for the Great American BBQ Tour, is one of the many pit masters heading into North Wildwood this weekend for the 15th annual New Jersey State Barbeque Championship and Anglesea Blues Festival. The three-day festival will take place Friday, July 12, through Sunday, July 14, at 2nd and Olde New Jersey avenues in North Wildwood.
The much-hyped festival will feature BBQ teams from around the country going grill-to-grill to win coveted BBQ honors - the biggest being Grand Champion.
The festival will also feature live blues music performed by regional favorites such as Frank Bey with the Anthony Paule Band, Dockta D and the Infirmary, Bluebone and April Mae and the June Bugs, among others.
The Great American BBQ Tour, which travels the country sharing barbecue and outdoor cooking techniques, will bring its own professional grilling and BBQ demonstrations, food samples - goodies like bacon-wrapped pork loins - and activities to the festival, says Preston, who will be cooking on his trademark Big Green Egg cooker.
"Barbecue brings people together," says Preston, speaking from a tour stop at the I Love Barbecue & Music Festival in Lake Placid, N.Y. "Barbecue is low and slow. You've got 10 hours to cook a pork butt; you have to do something in those 10 hours. You're sharing that experience over fire. I think that's the big thing."
This year, the festival will add a cooking class to the lineup. Alyson Lupinetti, the reigning "Best Ribs in Jersey" winner, will lead a class on how to prepare succulent ribs 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
"Our motto is cook it low, cook it slow," says Lupinetti, of Mount Laurel, Burlington County. "Never above 225 degrees. It doesn't matter if it takes 15 hours, that's what it takes. Season before you cook, so it has a chance to penetrate the meat."
Lupinetti, the daughter of pit master Butch Lupinetti, uses a St. Louis-style rib - meaning there is meat on both sides of the bone, unlike baby back ribs - cooking them for four to five hours with her restaurant's own New Jersey hickory, she says.
"Everything is always consistent," says Lupinetti, the co-owner of Butch's Smack Your Lips, a competition BBQ team. "All our racks look the same. We grow our own (hickory) trees and use our own wood. We finish them off with our signature barbecue sauce."
While Lupinetti is known for her ribs, her favorite thing to make is pulled pork.
"We spend 12 hours cooking it," Lupinetti says. "We baby it, cook it low, cook it slow. We're going to put our apple barbecue (sauce) on it - a little sweet, a little spicy."
For Lupinetti, winning the "Best Ribs in Jersey" - an honor created to honor the memory of her father Butch - was a surprising honor, earned through a double-blind judging process.
"It was surreal," says Lupinetti, 21. "For me, my second year out, to win that - my mom and I were just crying. I'm a female in this, which is very rare."
Bruce DiMattia, frontman for the blues group Dockta D and the Infirmary, says the blues and barbecue go naturally together. The harmonica master recently planned his own backyard barbecue party and says he is looking forward to sampling the best pulled pork and ribs in Wildwood -in addition to offering harmonica pointers to anyone who wants them.
"Are you kidding me?" DiMattia says of BBQ and blues music. "The only thing missing is booze. Booze, blues and barbecue. Why not go all the way?"
Anglesea Blues Festival
Main Stage Schedule
4 to 7 p.m. - Bluebone
7:30 to 10:30 p.m. - Dockta D and the Infirmary
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Blue Voodoo Band
4 to 7 p.m. - The BC Combo
7:30 to 10:30 p.m. - Frank Bey and the Anthony Paule Band
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. - Pinewolf and the Pack
2 to 4:30 p.m. - April Mae and the June Bugs
Wildwoods' 15th Annual
New Jersey State Barbeque Championship and
Anglesea Blues Festival
WHEN: Friday, July 12, through Sunday,
WHERE: North Wildwood at Second and Olde New Jersey avenues
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: For a festival map, trolley information and a complete schedule, call 609-523-6565 or go to NJBBQ.com or