Amateur cooks will try to wow judges with their best barbecue during Saratoga’s All-American Celebration on July 4.
The new event allows four competitors nominated by their children to vie for a donated barbecue smoker and earn bragging rights as the best barbecuer in town.
Organizers have held a barbecue and dessert contest for restaurants for the past five years, and decided to add an amateur component with local celebrity judges and sous chefs this year.
“We thought it was kind of a cool component to add,” said Kate Jarosh, president of Saratoga’s All-American Celebration board. The traditional contest where restaurant patrons vote on their favorites will continue this year, the sixth year of the July 4 event.
The celebrity sous chefs will be Mayor Scott Johnson, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus, the Rev. Paul Borowski from St. Clement’s Roman Catholic Church and Ben Franklin — or an historic interpreter, if the Founding Father is unavailable. Each will be matched with one of the competitors to assist with the contest.
The event takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Saratoga Downtowner Motel parking lot, with contestants having an hour to prepare their barbecue before judges taste it.
Competitors’ identities and the nominations that their children wrote are being posted on the group’s Facebook page this week.
One child wrote a poem, Jarosh said. A contestant who is in the Navy was nominated by his niece and nephew.
A mother nominated her husband and son.
And “we have two boys who are both autistic and nominated their parents,” Jarosh said.
Also new this year is a musical act in Congress Park before the fireworks. The Audiostars will play from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Other events that have taken place the last five summers will return, including the car show, parade and re-enactors.
Also, the event is part of the Saratoga 150 celebration this year, marking the anniversary of the beginning of thoroughbred horse racing in Saratoga Springs.
The slate of events includes:
5 to 7 p.m. — Saratoga Springs History Museum racing exhibit grand opening, for members only, Canfield Casino, Congress Park.
7 to 8 p.m. — A General John Burgoyne historical interpreter will recall the Battle of Saratoga at Bookmaker’s patio fireplace at the Holiday Inn.
9 to 10:30 a.m. — Firecracker4 Road Race on Broadway in front of the City Center.
11 to 11:30 a.m. — All-American Parade & Patriotic Pooches on Broadway from Van Dam Street to Spring Street. The parade is led by the Korean War Veterans Color Guard and includes re-enactors, civic groups and local leaders, as well as dressed-up dogs.
11:30 a.m. — Parade characters family photo-op, in Congress Park at the Columbia Spring. Children can get their pictures taken with historical interpreters including Franklin and Burgoyne.
11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — All-American BBQ & Dessert Fest at various locations downtown and outside the Holiday Inn. Dozens of restaurants and organizations will serve barbecue and dessert for $1 per taste. Tasters then vote for their favorites.
11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Family Day in Congress Park includes live re-enactors, historical kids’ games, face painting, carousel rides, live music and food.
Noon to 4 p.m. — All-American Classic Car Show in Congress Park Plaza.
1 to 2:30 p.m. — Historic City Tour starts at the Congress Spring Pavilion in Congress Park. Charlie Kuenzel, Dave Patterson and Bob Baker guide a 90-minute walking tour of the Congress Park area, telling what it was like in 1863.
4 to 7 p.m. — Amateur BBQ Cook-Off Competition in the Saratoga Downtowner Motel parking lot, 413 Broadway.
6:30 to 9:30 p.m. — Party in the Park, Congress Park, with the Audiostars.
9:15 p.m. — Live reading of the Declaration of Independence, Congress Park.
9:30 p.m. — Fireworks with patriotic music, Congress Park.
9 to 10:30 a.m. — Historic City Tour starts at Potato Chip Lane on East Avenue. Charlie Kuenzel, Dave Patterson and Bob Baker guide a 90-minute walking tour of the Oklahoma Training Track area and the main race track. Includes stables, training and off-track activities, as well as the legends and lore of 150 years of racing. Ages 10 and up. No umbrellas.
11 a.m. — Closing ceremony and presentation of awards for BBQ and Dessert Fest, Congress Park.