"I'm only happy when it rains
I feel good when things are going wrong
I only listen to the sad, sad songs
I'm only happy when it rains
I only smile in the dark
My only comfort is the night gone black
I didn't accidentally tell you that
I'm only happy when it rains"
"Only Happy When It Rains"
~ Garbage ~
Well, saints and sinners, the borough of Phoenixville survived the unpleasant weather last weekend and had its 10th Annual FAME Festival.
I don't know about some of you, but I certainly had a great time, and was glad that Mother Nature cooperated on at least one of the two days last weekend.
Granted, when the decision came from Main Street Manager Barry Cassidy to postpone it until Sunday, it wasn't a popular one with a couple of people, while others applauded Cassidy for his quick actions.
It may have kept a few vendors from coming into town, but hey, God bless those who were able to plan ahead and make the sojourn into our borough for the day.
There was quite a few people taking advantage of the 200 block of Bridge Street being closed, and walking up and down, checking out all of the vendors. I noticed the ever popular Petrucci's cart close to the front of my office building. Super John Colarusso and his employees dishing out the frozen treats. A lot of the local merchants had their doors open, and quite a bit of foot traffic was seen waltzing in and out of stores.
Besides the fact that I wanted to be a part of this community event, I was asked to be a guest judge at the Rib Cook-Off at the Main Stay parking lot. Prior to the Cook-Off, I decided that my palate should be thoroughly cleansed, so I figured a pound of macaroni salad would do the trick. I can only imagine how many ribs I could've eaten if I hadn't consumed the salad.
I made my way to the parking lot, which was deemed "the adult corner" by fellow reporter Kelly Devine, who did a great job of reporting the festival in her first big event.
I found Barry Cassidy sitting at a table along with fellow judges Manny DeMutis, Mark "Bigg Daddy" Smith from Bigg Daddy's Rhythm & Ribz, 102.9 WMGK's John DeBella and Megan Phillips, and Ken Beard from Jaworski's Music Center. Everyone was elbow-deep into ribs, and there was very little talking.
Cassidy told me to "dig in" and that's all the encouragement I needed. There was a huge aluminum tin filled with ribs from Smoken Dudes Smokehouse from Croyden, Pa., and three ribs from them made their way to my plate. Those ribs were absolutely tender, with a nice sauce to them. It's obvious these people knew what they were doing as far as ribs are concerned.
"Bigg Daddy" Smith handed me a plate of ribs from Bridgeport Rib House from Bridgeport, and let me tell you about these folks, they have one distinctive sauce to their ribs. It had a bit of a spicy edge to it, but it didn't burn you. It simply let you know that it was there, and that's not a bad thing. The competition basically came down to those two establishments. The decision was particularly close, but the votes were cast and Smoken Dudes Smokehouse came out on top.
A special thanks to "Bigg Daddy" Smith for providing us with a little dessert of sweet potato pie, which was a nice complement to the conga line of ribs that were consumed. If you haven't tried his sweet potato pie, don't blame me for stopping you. Yes, I sinned and had a sliver, and "Bigg Daddy" made sure that was it. Trust me, I had plenty of people keeping an eye on me last Sunday, and I do appreciate it.
Besides a stomach full of ribs, the one thing I've taken from that experience was the mutual camaraderie that was shared amongst us rib critics. It was a good time, and John DeBella was simply hilarious. I've met John in the past, and he was as gracious on Sunday as he was in previous meetings. Down-to-earth and full of stories, he was definitely a welcome addition to the table. He took the time to shake hands with those who approached him, and stayed around the festival for quite a while after the cook-off. Methinks he'll be making his way back to these parts, now that he knows how to get here, and that it's a great place to visit.
Oh how it was necessary to walk several laps up and down Bridge Street to stretch out the intestines. Thank goodness I had Lady Devine alongside to keep me stepping, because it made walking much more relaxing. Basically, she wouldn't let me stop, which is motivation I could use on a daily basis at times. To thank her for being so awesome, I had to buy her the first Guiness she's ever had. Who'd thought someone who went to Penn State wouldn't have had a Guiness by now?
Anyway, I had the pleasure of meeting two of Kildare's finest bartenders, Tracy and Melissa, who managed to keep the big PITA's plastic cup conveniently filled. Dear Lord, if you wanna give me just one thing this year, and trust me, you've given me a lot, how about bringing Kildare's to Phoenixville. I've been to the one in West Chester, and ventured down to the one in King of Prussia. Let's bring Kildare's to Phoenixville (along with Tracy and Melissa, preferably).
Also, I had the luxury of finding a certain person's camcorder (ahem, Chris DeVol), and managed to film some shots that I'm sure Chris probably had trouble explaining to the family when he showed them the footage. Note to the world, never leave a camcorder laying around unattended. You never know when a big sinner will pick it up and have some fun. Even though I used his camcorder, DeVol was nice enough to take a few pictures for me, which I appreciate him sending to me.
All in all, the FAME Festival was a great time, and a special thanks to everyone I've mentioned previously, along with George Mansur (cool duck hat), Bob Motzer, Lance & Karin Leet, Lisa Josephson, Chris Firey, Lisa Kelly, Jim Hammel, Ken Wickstrom, Tim Cahill and Bill Rettew, yes I said Bill Rettew, for coming out and making the day simply awesome.
Until then, some final words of wisdom to "write-off" to - here's wishing a special Happy Birthday to our new sports diva, Jaclyn Freese. She's done a remarkable job in the short time she's been here at The Phoenix, and deserves a well full of wishes for a great day.