Smoke on the water, but precious little sun

Published 6:32 am Sunday, October 26, 2008

By Staff
Taylor Gregg, 13, wins rainy day pig-cooking contest
Staff Writer
The best weather at Saturday’s Smoke on the Water festival in downtown Washington came just as vendors were packing up and heading home.
But organizer Gary Tomasulo said the event, in its 11th year, had strong participation, given the rain and drizzle the event faced.
Even so, the chili contest saw the most entrants ever, with 10.
And the first prize in the pig-cooking contest — serious business to barbecue aficionados and pig roasters alike — went to a 13-year-old girl, Taylor Gregg.
Tomasulo said the festival was the result of help from many organizations and many small businesses.
Groups including the Boy Scouts and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront and lots of volunteers helped make the festival happen, he said.
One of those volunteers was Bob Martin, the event’s food chairman.
Smoke on the Water helps rebuild the town more through publicity than through fundraising, he said.
Once they’ve seen the downtown and the waterfront, organizers hope they’ll come back again and patronize local businesses, Tomasulo said.
There’s little manual work involved in volunteering, but that doesn’t make the work easy, Martin said.
Another key volunteer was Jeri Bolafka, who runs the chili tent along with her family every year.
The hardest part for them is getting everything set up and started in the morning, she said. Contestants in the chili contest sell their entries until they run out. Then Bolafka and her family take over with chili they have made.
Bolafka has been observing the chili cook off for years. What seems to be the key to victory?
But even with free labor from Martin, Bolafka and a host of others, Tomasulo said Smoke on the Water was tough to pull off this year.
The economy’s downturn made it harder to find big businesses to sponsor the festival, he said, so this year organizers relied on more, smaller sponsors.
The events’ culinary focus was offset by a car show put on by Down East Rods &Classics car club. While many enjoyed scoping out old Mercuries, Chevrolets, Fords — and a Datsun — the show participants seemed prouder of the money they raised for a local teen with cancer.
After awards were handed out for cars, participants turned to the fundraiser for Hailey Hiatt, a local 15-year-old battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
At first, organizers planned to give the family the house’s take on a 50-50 drawing and profits from a raffle — first prize, a bicycle; second prize, $25.
But club president Tommy Respass said he would provide the raffle’s second prize, so all the raffle proceeds could go to the Hiatts.
Then Tom and Marge Miller, who won the $25, turned the money down, saying it should go to the Hiatts as well.
And then Ernie Cook, already holding two top-ten finish trophies for his cars, won the 50-50 drawing. He too turned down the prize money, saying it should go to Hiatt.
In total, the club raised a total of $783 for Hiatt.
Respass praised the enthusiasts who turned out for Saturday’s show.
This year’s winners:
First prize ($1,200), Taylor Gregg
Second prize ($900), Fred Woodard
Third prize ($700), Leslie Deaton
Fourth prize ($100), Russell Snider
Showmanship award ($300), Russell Snider
First prize ($300), Steven Fuchs
Second prize ($200), Pat Rogers
Third prize ($100), Rebecca Franks
Best in Show Car, 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle, Ted Bozette
Best in Show Truck, 1948 Chevrolet Truck, Tony Nixon
Sponsor’s Choice (Advanced Auto Parts), 1951 Mercury, Shelton Williams
Best Paint, 1962 Chevrolet II Nova, Junior Parrish
Best Interior, 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, Ray Adams
Best Engine, 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, Rudy Gue