Pork in the Park 2016 in pictures and text

It was back to the basics once again for this once-premier regional event, which is still chugging along in its thirteenth year. What better way to celebrate the weekend of Earth Day than eating some of its tastier creatures cooked over a charcoal fire?

For the second time, though, there was no KCBS competition element. However, there was a competition wrapping up just as we arrived regarding which of the four competitors selling pulled pork had the best, along with a local craft beer pairing. Actually it sounded like a pretty good deal for $10 and it’s a pity I missed it.

There was still a pretty good food court, though, dubbed “Pig Out Alley” with some out-of-towners hawking their barbecued wares.

The guys from Smoke Shack BBQ were hard at work keeping up with demand.

There seems to be a psychological effect where the place with the longest line is thought to have the best ribs. As it turned out, Kim stayed in the Smoke Shack line for about a half-hour while I walked across the way to get mine from the former Salisbury denizen Famous Dave’s, strolling right up to the counter and ordering. Maybe that’s why their location here only lasted a couple years.

So this is what I got.

Funny thing: both Kim and I agreed that the Famous Dave’s ribs were better. Smoke Shack was somewhat pricier as well, but that comes with the territory I suppose. We could have gotten Hess’s ribs as well, for they didn’t have a long line either. But as I recall we had theirs last year, when Pork in the Park nearly failed.

Nicer weather helped with the attendance, which seemed to be improved from 2015. It wasn’t to the level of past years but perhaps they can rebuild the festival.

One holdover from 2015 was the kids court, with the row of bouncy houses.

It was actually a pretty good arrangement, as they separated the kids zone from the beer tent and other adult areas. It wasn’t like you couldn’t hear the band, which was wrapping up as we got there.

According to the entertainment page of the PitP website the band was Delta Spur, a country cover band. Since I’m not into country, they didn’t do a lot for me until they ended the show with some Lynard Skynard (that one I recognized.) But it looks like quite a few were into them.

One thing new they were trying was Balloonville, where you could check out these balloons and perhaps take a (tethered) ride in one, for a price.

I would have to say that this year’s rendition is improved over last year’s, but whether it can turn the corner without the competition element remains to be seen. It’s worth noting that most of the banners various rib vendors use to commemorate their victories are several years old – seems that the number of these competitions have waned as tastes move away from everything barbecued and onto other culinary options. Perhaps someone somewhere has a banner that brags about winning Pork in the Park, but that’s not happening this year.

But if you don’t mind paying a little extra for some good ribs, this isn’t a bad place to bring the family if you’re around Salisbury. They have the kids’ area so the little ones can blow off steam and it’s only $3 to get in for the adults. It’s a beautiful day on Delmarva as well – aside from some rain yesterday afternoon, they lucked out with the weather. You have until 5:00 today.

So come on out and see if we can make it bigger and better for 2017.

2013 Salisbury Festival in pictures and text

After missing the event last year because I was out of town, I got to return to the Salisbury Festival this year for one occurrence. (Unless the date of the MDGOP convention is changed for next year I’ll miss the SF again in 2014.)

I had to be there early to help set up our space, so I happened onto the annual firemen’s awards. It’s always neat to see Old Glory raised up this way.

Once the firemen were finished, the color guard paraded to the intersection by which I was standing.

Having helped to set up our place (after the mixup we had was resolved) I first wandered the Plaza looking around.

A staple of the Salisbury Festival is its emphasis on artistic forms of all sorts. A number of craftsmen and artisans had set up shop hoping to make a little money from their efforts. But it was slow going on the far end.

This is the same locale where just a week and a day before Third Friday had set up shop outdoors for the first time this year.

Art of all sorts was on display, with an emphasis on the youngest attendees.

Many of them were hard at work chalking the Plaza at its entrance.

There were also performers on the Plaza, trying to instill us with culture.

Talented as they were, for me they were no match to the appeal of Detroit iron.

For those of you under around the age of 35 – notice something missing in this picture?

Look in the trunk.

Yes, the Corvair was a rear-engine vehicle which was rather popular back in the day until Ralph Nader killed it. It certainly wasn’t all that expensive.

It’s also fun to see what restorers go through. This was an unusual display for a car show.

But from this shell may come something which looks a lot like this.

For all I know, these cars could have been on the line at the same time – both are 1968 Pontiac Firebirds.

Yet I’m now of an age when the cars of my childhood are joined as “classics” by the cars of my formative years. Believe it or not, this car is nearly 30 years old – but I drove a similar model in my drivers’ ed class.

And I wasn’t the only one walking down Memory Lane, er, Main Street.

Now something I skipped in my little narrative was the block or so between the Plaza and the car show. That was fraught with fun and frivolity as well.

I talked about this group awhile back, and the local chapter of Move to Amend was out adding to the minor amount of political goings-on.

I had an interesting discussion with the guy, but obviously our end goals are different: he wants to erode the power of corporations in government by stifling their rights to contribute money (which, to me equates with their right to free speech.) I’d rather just limit corporations’ power and influence by limiting the size and scope of government. Of course, this guy made the classic mistake of assuming I wanted no government.

Speaking of people who make classic mistakes, the Democrats were mixed in with a group of private interests. I thought they should have been next to Move to Amend.

One piece of advice I gave to my Democratic friends: Tootsie Rolls and warm, sunny days do not go well together.

But they were right across from one of the two City of Salisbury setups, where my Council member Laura Mitchell was sitting. I should have asked if she was going to sit on the other side of the street, too.

But I was getting hungry and decided to check out the food court. I was also wondering where my fiance was.

You know, it really helps to turn your phone off silent when you are done with the event you turned it off at. Turns out she (and her daughter and friend) were down by the river, where I took this shot.

It was empty at the time, but this lot on the other side from downtown is where the Salisbury Festival hosts many of its evening activities. Later on Saturday there would be an international beer festival.

I almost took a photo of the rockfish I had for lunch, but I decided not to share.

Now when you have kids in tow your priorities change a little bit. Normally I would pretty much ignore the carnival portion of the SF, but that doesn’t happen with two teenagers.

A few rides, a basketball and couple (live, in a plastic bag) goldfish later, they were happy and Kim and I went our separate ways as I relieved a relieved Jackie. The Plaza was abuzz with activity by then.

Meanwhile, we soldiered on in our modest little space. The biggest problem, as it turned out, was having our tent banner paired up with a small table. We made it work.

The final photo is of two presidents: Ellen Bethel of Republican Women of Wicomico and Jackie Wellfonder of the Wicomico County Republican Club.

GOP table 2 (640x480)

It was nice to see our downtown alive and vibrant for a day, at least. Come Monday after 5 it will be back to its sleepy self, save for a couple pockets of activity.

Gingrich to make SU appearance

Well, the Presidential campaign comes to the Eastern Shore – but you need to be a member of the SU campus community to see him.

Taking a page from fellow competitor Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich will be appearing at Holloway Hall tomorrow afternoon from 3 to 4 p.m. However, the event is closed to the general public as it’s only open to those with campus ID.

More as the story develops…

Update: I managed to talk my way into the event through a friend, so a full report tonight.

Third Friday July in pictures and text

I think the attendance was pretty good as the weather was arguably about as perfect as someone can ask for.

I took this shot standing toward the west end of the Plaza looking east. Noteworthy is the fact the west end of the Plaza is usually not all that busy on Third Friday. It’s the more sedate side of things, like this gallery shows.

I wonder, though, why it’s Gallery 101 when the building is 224 West Main?

But good weather brought the crowd farther down. That and free snow cones at the Carriage House.

The minicar was a cute attraction for the relocated Robinson’s Skate Shop, which now resides in that classic building. (The Carriage House probably needs a good carpet cleaning now, though. Egg Custard snow cones and light colored carpet = bad combination.)

While I appreciate that John Robinson has made an effort to bring a successful business to downtown, I have to quibble with the sign. Don’t leave it up to the politicians to create a skate park because I don’t think that’s a necessary function of government. John seems to be good at finding markets and ways to fill them, so why not secure a nice piece of property and do it right? Where the politicians can help, though, would be figuring out ways to expedite the process for all those who want to develop.

A twist to this month’s edition was the inclusion of the Wheels that Heal car show, although it was a more modest version than the one normally held at the Salisbury Festival.

Of the classics parked there, this 1961 Chevy Impala was my personal favorite.

My parents owned the 1960 Impala model when I was a wee lad. It’s amazing to see the differences between consecutive model years back in that era compared to now, when body styles tend to last three to four years without much change.

The other car I liked down there wasn’t parked on Division Street. This owner wanted to shine on his own, I suppose – but it’s a sweet street rod. Notice there’s no back seat for the owner had wide racing slicks for the back tires.

Back on the Plaza, this shot was more representative of the gathering. It was taken about 7:00.

I just liked the pop culture reference on my friend Chris Lewis’s sign.

By the way, the chicken salad IS really good. I didn’t have it Friday night, but I have tried it before and I can vouch for it. Yet I can’t necessarily say it’s the best on the Shore because Kim’s mom makes a pretty mean chicken salad, too.

In case you’re wondering, I did check out at least a little bit of the three bands set up there, and that’s an upcoming Weekend of Local Rock post.

The Third Friday crew should get a tip of the hat for taking the event as far as they have. But at some point I believe they’re going to need a little more participation from artisans and artists. And until something anchors the end of East Main Street where Flavors used to be, it may be a good idea once fall arrives to cluster the proceedings on the Plaza proper. (Of course, I would assume the musical acts move inside once fall arrives.)

Until I see a Plaza which looks like the Plaza does during the Saturday of the Salisbury Festival, I’m not sure I can call the event a true success. Since we’re not what one would call a tourist attraction (aside from having the Shorebirds) the support may have to come from within.

We have a lot to offer, but need more to come and take advantage of it.

Andy’s Salisbury townhall

Finally, I get a chance to reflect on Monday’s townhall meeting with a suitable multimedia presentation.

On Monday our Congressman, Andy Harris, culminated a day spent on the Lower Shore with a public townhall meeting at Chef Fred’s in Salisbury. Several dozen constituents took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of Andy and otherwise say their piece.

His presentation began with a PowerPoint show which illustrated his main point of the evening: we have been “misled” for 20 to 30 years financially. Slides that showed the “reckless spending spree,” “tidal wave of debt,” “what drives our debt?,” and a comparison between the state we currently find ourselves in and the one in Greece before the EU bailout dominated his early remarks. One particularly interesting (and troubling) statistic: the foreign ownership that was just 5% back in 1970 is now 47 percent, with China the largest holder.

Against that stark backdrop, Harris told the group the aim of the House was to bring that debt under control. We “can’t be competitive with that amount of foreign debt,” he added. Their three-pronged approach was to trim spending without raising taxes – “increasing taxes is not the solution,” Andy said – and cutting regulation to “common sense” levels.

However, those cuts couldn’t just slash entitlement programs. “We have to establish a Social Security and Medicare system that’s viable,” stated Andy.

This took about the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the meeting. Most of the next two hours were spent answering questions on a number of subjects: among them the Federal Reserve, jobs and the economy, education, the PATRIOT Act, the Fourteenth Amendment, energy policy, and Medicare.

Perhaps my favorite question of the group was the one on education, which was asked as part of a soliloquy from a local teacher. It was a story from the front lines that lamented the amount of regulation placed on teachers, and Harris agreed that there was no federal role necessary in education.

I also thought Andy’s view on foreign aid was valid – we should require a country-by-country vote on foreign aid. This was friendly allies would be rewarded while those who oppose us would be first in line for cuts. Among those Harris favored retaining at least the present amount of aid for was Israel, our “staunchest ally” in the Middle East.

Andy also had a long explanation of his beliefs on the PATRIOT Act, a question asked by fellow blogger Julie Brewington of Right Coast. The process of resolving the act was “complicated” because of provisions which expired at different times and being of the belief that some parts of the PATRIOT Act were useful.

Of course, I asked a question, too. In short, what is wrong with the leadership?

Andy also revealed he’s a co-sponsor of a bill to clarify the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t apply to “anchor babies,” which makes sense because the parents aren’t under our jurisdiction as non-citizens.

Quite a bit of the discussion focused on government health care.

As a medical practicioner, Andy eaasily explained some of the factors which allowed drug companies to sell drugs cheaply to Canadians as opposed to here in America. Technically, purchasing drugs from Canada enables drug companies to flout Canadian law, but the reason drugs are cheaper there is the formulary they use – in other words, their selection is far less than ours. Later, there was a question about Medicare doctor reimbursements where Andy made the point that cutting the payments to doctors was a form of “backdoor rationing” because limiting Medicare payments to doctors forced them to stop accepting Medicare patients. (How many people would willingly take a 30 percent pay cut for doing the same amount of work? That’s what they are asking doctors to do, as I understand it.) A more desirable effect could be had by increasing competition between insurance companies, Andy concluded.

There was a questioner who asked about the cuts to job services, but Andy reminded her that there were 47 programs out there which still had $1.5 billion to spend this fiscal year. Meanwhile, due to overregulation, the poultry industry was “on the brink of leaving the country.” We have the workforce to bring light manufacturing to the area, but needed to have a government which would allow businesses to thrive.

Term limits? Andy is a co-sponsor of a term limits bill. I also recall in 2008 he said he’d serve no more than 12 years.

NASA was a good program, but in a time of limited budget flexibility they needed to prioritize their missions.

“Energy independence has to be one of our top priorities,” opined Andy. I couldn’t agree more. He pointed out the Marcellus Shale formation under portions of Maryland and other neighboring states as a key untapped resource.

But, it can’t be an Andy Harris event without somebody protesting, whether in a chicken suit or not.

Mike Calpino, the Libertarian candidate for a County Council seat last year, mildly protested the direction the two principal parties had led the country by holding this sign out front before the event. However, no one disrupted the proceedings inside. Aside from an admitted RINO who thought the Republican Party needed to jettison its right wing, the dialogue was relatively friendly.

Two final quotes from the meeting:

Referring to our financial situation: “(There is) an unwillingness in Washington to face the music.”

“My philosophy is, that if we reduce the size of government, we free up capital and our American entrepreneurship to create jobs and business, to be the best in the world.” That was a reply to the self-described RINO.

Needless to say, the Congressman encourages input from constituents. His district office is downtown at 212 W. Main Street, right inside the Gallery Building.