- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beginning Saturday, three food festivals are sure to add flavor to your first weekend of the summer.

The Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle kicks off its 22nd annual contest at 11 a.m. Saturday, with exhibits and stages stretching from 9th St. NW to 14th St. NW.

This year, 42 barbecue teams will vie in nine competitions for a chance to win a portion of $40,000 in cash prizes. One of the unique competitions will pit top chefs from the five military branches to determine who serves the best pork.

A Safeway Sampling Pavilion will provide free food samples, and 18 food vendors will be set up around the site — including Red Hot and Blue, and Pork Barrel BBQ.

More than 30 bands are set to play on three stages during the two-day event. And festivalgoers can gawk at 72 large exhibits ranging from “the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile to the Johnsonville Big Taste Grill, the world’s largest grill,” event producer Allen Tubis said.

“In the past we’ve averaged about 50 to 55 exhibits, and we definitely topped that this year, which is really exciting,” Mr. Tubis said.

On Sunday, the National Pork Board will announce the Grand Champions of BBQ.

The father-mother-son team of Craig, Julie, and Aiden Lyjak of Loveland, Ohio, are looking to reclaim their title of Grand Champs. The Lyjaks have been participating in barbecue contests around the country as a hobby for the past seven years.

“We love the contest in D.C. It’s such an amazing venue right there on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the crowd is always super lively and great,” Mr. Lyjak said.

The festival ends 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the days of the festival; children under 12 enter for free and proceeds will be donated to the Butler Wyant Clubhouse #2, a Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, as well as the Capital Area Food Bank and the United Service Organizations.

Twelve restaurants and eight Virginia wineries will be showcased in the third annual Alexandria Food and Wine Festival at John Carlyle Square from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

This year marks the festival’s first appearance of Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery. Located in Nellysford, Hill Top is known for its “true to the fruit” wines and honey meads, owner Kim Pugh said.

“Honey meads are very ancient. They were the drink of the Vikings and Celts,” Mrs. Pugh said. “Not many places in Virginia specialize in meads and they are becoming very popular, so we were excited to find another festival in the area.”

Lovers of cabernet franc and vidal blanc should be sure to test North Mountain Vineyard and Winery’s selections. Established in 1989 in Maurertown, this family-owned winery hosts tasting rooms and year-round events in a “storybook setting,” said winery co-owner Krista Jackson-Foster.

Mrs. Jackson-Foster boasted that they will bring “the best Shenandoah Valley wines” to Alexandria.

At 1 p.m., Alexandria restaurants will have the chance to face off in a competition that will determine who serves the best appetizer, main course, and dessert in town.

Walker’s Grille, a 3-year-old American fare restaurant, won the main course portion of the contest last year with a scallop dish and the year before that with short ribs. Co-owner Sam Misleh is looking forward to his surf-and-turf dish “bringing home a three-peat.”

Master of ceremonies Tommy McFly, the morning anchor for 94.7 Fresh FM, will announce the contest winners at 2:30 p.m.

The festival includes performances by a Quimboa Jazz band, Gina DeSimone & The Moaners, Zumba demonstrations, and a Children’s Corner complete with a moon bounce, and arts and craft activities.

Attendance is free, but $15 tickets are required to taste test both the food and wine. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Volunteer Alexandria, a nonprofit group. John Carlyle Square is located three blocks from the Kings Cross Metro Station.

The seventh annual Northern Virginia Summer BrewFest begins at noon Saturday at Morven Park in Leesburg, Va.

Expecting to garner its largest crowd yet, the BrewFest will feature American brews from more than 60 microbreweries from around the country, 19 of which are new to the festival this year.

“It’s not surprising that the festival is growing and gaining popularity, considering the fact that the craft beer industry is really booming right now,” festival manager Bill Collins said.

Each adult will be given a 4.75 oz. souvenir glass upon entering and four beer sampling tickets. Additional tickets can be purchased for $1 apiece.

“It’s only 4 ounces because craft beer is the focus, not just solely consuming lots of beer, but really tasting it,” Mr. Collins said.

New this year are cooking-with-beer demonstrations by military chef Joe Mariano. Along with The Guiding Knife and Port City Brewery, Mr. Mariano has concocted several recipes using beer as the star ingredient. In four demonstrations Saturday and three Sunday, he will show how to use beer in pickled carrots, salad dressings, sauces, even cheesecake.

The festival includes 12 food vendors and 49 nonfood vendors selling everything from jewelry and candles to window remodeling.

It’s open noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 in advance and $30 at the gate; designated drivers can enter for $10 in advance and $15 at the gate. Children under 16 accompanied by an adult can enter for free.

Parking is free.

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