Forty teams will compete starting at noon Sunday, Aug. 8, to win the big prize in the second annual Mainely Grillin’ and Chillin’ State BBQ Competition, held during the Celebrate MAINE Festival, Aug. 6-8 at the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum in Eliot. Sponsored by Maine’s own DennyMike’s ‘Cue Stuff, an award-winning barbecue sauce and rub company also based in Eliot, the competition was a success last year, attracting a number of entrants. It sent one team, the Boston-based IQUE BBQ, to the 2009 Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational in Lynchburg, Tenn., one of the most prestigious in the industry, which IQUE later went on to win. Competitors this year hale from all over the country. Participating in the festivities will be Denny Mike himself, along with two legends in the barbecue industry — Paul Kirk, also known as Kansas City’s “Baron of Barbecue,” and Ardie Davis, founder of several barbecue competitions around the country. Kirk will teach a barbecue cooking class all day on Friday, Aug. 6; to sign up, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on all the events at the Celebrate MAINE Festival and at the barbecue competition, visit www.mainelybbq.com.
Bread is the food of life, though you might not know it, looking at processed loaves of uniform white bread at the supermarket. The Kneading Conference on July 29 and 30 in Skowhegan aims to change that perspective. The annual conference brings together farmers, novice and professional bakers, and earth-oven enthusiasts to explore the art and science of growing and milling grains and baking artisan breads. Organizers seek to revive the practice of locally crafted bread, from seed to loaf, and have assembled a group of some of the finest bakers and growers in the country to share their knowledge. They range from Maine bakers Jim Amaral of Borealis Breads in Waldoboro and Cate Conway of Morning Glory Bakery in Bar Harbor, to Quebecois stone miller Robert Beauchemin, Will Bonsall, director of the Iowa-based Scatterseed Project, and rabbi, baker and baking teacher Jonathan Rubenstein, based in New York. To register for the two days of talks, workshop and delicious bread, visit www.kneadingconference.org; the cost for two days is $300. From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, July 31, the conference will be host to the second annual Maine Artisan Bread Fair at the Skowhegan Fair Grounds. The fair, which is open to the public, will feature more than 40 bakeries sharing and selling their wares.
For the 11th year in a row, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proclaimed Aug. 1-7 National Farmers’ Market Week. Since the USDA began declaring National Farmers’ Market Week 10 years ago, the number of farmers markets has almost doubled, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to 5,274 in 2009. According to the USDA, ap-proximately 6,000 farmers markets are now operating in the country. There is a multitude of markets to choose from in eastern Maine; nearly every day of the week you can get farm-fresh produce, meat, eggs and bread in a variety of locations. If you’re not sure where or when there’s one in a particular town, call your town office or visit http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets and search for markets in Maine.