BEST BARBECUE: Hervey Bay Barbecue Festival competition pork rib (above), Black Bark Barbecue's lamb trophy (right) and Black Bark Barbecue team at the Hervey Bay Barbecue Festival (far right).
BEST BARBECUE: Hervey Bay Barbecue Festival competition pork rib (above), Black Bark Barbecue's lamb trophy (right) and Black Bark Barbecue team at the Hervey Bay Barbecue Festival (far right). Denis Maher

Barbecue event huge success

THE inaugural Hervey Bay Craft Beer and Barbecue Festival was held on the Australia Day long weekend, with more than 2000 people attending and enjoying the winning combination of low'n'slow barbecue and craft brewed beverages.

It was the first event of this kind in the Fraser Coast region. Australasian Barbecue Alliance-sanctioned barbecue competitions are held across Australia and New Zealand as part of a national competition with points awarded going towards an annual competition.

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Competitive barbecuing is a world away from turning a few sausages on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a beer in hand.

Cooking often begins around midnight and categories like chicken, lamb, beef and pork ribs are judged the following day.

Teams travelled from as far away as Bathurst to compete, with yours truly competing in the Black Bark Barbecue team.

It was a real thrill for a Fraser Coast local to be called up on stage to receive a trophy in the lamb category on the Australia Day long weekend at the inaugural Hervey Bay barbecue competition.

The 'sport' of competitive barbecuing is taken very seriously by the teams competing and the officials judging.

Councillor Darren Everard was involved in the judging, and as he is a butcher by trade and a keen barbecue enthusiast, he enjoyed the competition immensely and recognises the potential for this type of event to bring more visitors to the Fraser Coast region.

Teams have generally invested considerable amounts of money into their barbecue 'pits', equipment, travel and meats to cook at the competition.

The prizemoney at barbecue competitions is usually not huge, so it is the thrill of the win that keeps teams coming back.

The judges get just one bite to judge each hand in, so teams try to pack as much flavour as possible into that one bite, cooking very rich, over-the-top flavoured barbecued proteins.

The person responsible for organising the entire event was Ali Clenton.

The resort Ali manages is a sprawling complex of 58 rooms set among tropical landscaped gardens and a fauna sanctuary, with waterways and aquatic wildlife a feature.

The complex includes a hotel open until 4am with a bistro offering breakfast, lunch and dinner service seven days a week.

One can only imagine the complexities involved in managing a venue of this nature while ensuring that guests receive first-class hospitality at all times.

Ali does this every day, and somehow also organised the festival in her spare time. I caught up with Ali in a one-on-one interview to find out what makes her tick:

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How long have you been in your role?

I have been here since 2010, however I was transferred to another of our venues in Maryborough for two years and returned last August as the venue manager.

 

How much additional workload was on your shoulders to organise the first Hervey Bay barbecue competition?

The barbecue competition took me five months to organise.

Mainly because it was the first one and I had to start from scratch with everything. I work with an amazing and supportive team here though, which makes my job a lot easier.

What drives you to succeed at your job?

My total love for what I do drives me to succeed, I couldn't imagine doing anything else!

About you?

I love cooking for my family when they come to visit and it always used to be my lasagne until we brought our first smoker last year, now everything is low and slow barbecue.