GARDINER — Fans of local brews and barbecue were treated to plenty of both at this year’s Swine & Stein Festival.
Swine & Stein, organized by Gardiner Main Street and in its third year, sported a beer tent along Water Street offering Maine draft beer, several Maine bands, games for adults and children, and plenty of food.
Gardiner Main Street Executive Director Patrick Wright said the group wanted to improve the swine portion of the event after running out of food the first two years. To do so, they doubled the number of food vendors, from three to six. One of the additions, Crazy Dave’s Pit BBQ, from Ellsworth, came with a 28-foot-long smoker and more than 1,000 pounds of meat.
Wright said they sold around 500 advance tickets to the event, but he expected at least 1,000 people to show up throughout the day.
Patrons could enjoy beer from several Maine breweries, including Allagash Brewing Co., Baxter Brewing Co. and Shipyard Brewing Co., out of Swine & Stein souvenir glasses.
David Matz, owner of Crazy Dave’s Pit BBQ, said he was happy with the event’s turnout, as well as and the long line often forming in front of his tent.
“We’re going to run out of food, so that’s a good thing,” he said. “Every time I go home without food, I’m happy.”
At the other end of the block was one of Gardiner’s culinary pillars, Gerard’s Pizza. Instead of slinging pizza pies, the pizzeria’s owner, Jeff McCormick, had enlisted Bob Lutz and Dave Cichowski, two local men with a passion for barbecue, to work in the tent to better fit in with the theme of the day. The pair run D&B Smokin’ Bones, a barbecue catering company that Lutz said is more of a hobby than a business.
“We’re not out to make a ton of money,” Lutz said, who works as a plumber based in Winthrop.
Lutz manned the smoker, which is actually a sideways oil tank converted into a smoker by Lutz’s brother-in-law. “I call it the Hoginator,” he said.
“Compared to him, ours looks like the Beverly Hillbillies,” said Lutz, gesturing in the direction of Crazy Dave’s Pit BBQ. “We’re rednecks, so we don’t care.”
At one point, Cichowki, who was serving pulled pork sandwiches, told Lutz he needed more pork. Lutz lifted up the homemade grill’s cover, exposing a rack of around 15 hunks of pork under a cloud of smoke. After checking the temperature of the pork, he stabbed two four-prong forks into the meat, carrying it to an aluminum tray in front of Cichowski.
“Just look at that,” Cichowski said as he easily pulled the pork apart with a large fork.
Lutz said he lit the fire at 4:30 a.m. and put the meat on at 5 a.m. It needs around six to eight hours to cook properly, he said. “Then it will just pull apart.”
Lutz said they dry-rub the meat the night before with a blend of spices made by his wife. Customers were able to choose from among a few different flavors of barbecue sauce, also made by Lutz’s wife.
Outside the fenced-in area for the music and beer tent, people could still walk down the sidewalk, often checking out the stores along Water Street.
Wright said events such as these are usually a good boost for downtown businesses.
“Anytime you put a thousand people on the street, most businesses are going to do well,” he said.
Paul Koenig — 621-5663