After a two-year hiatus, the critters of Pocahontas County had to be sure to look both ways before crossing the road because last Saturday, the RoadKill Cook-off was back with a bang.
The savory aroma of the delectable dishes concocted by four teams filled the air in Marlinton and attracted more than 12,000 visitors to partake in the one-of-a-kind cook-off where everyone is in on the joke.
The only returning team was the Pendleton Community Bank Buckbusters, led by head cook Kendall Beverage. In their last go-round, the Buckbusters won third place and People’s Choice with their Side Ditch Doe with Puss Scab Fritters.
This year, the team stuck with venison with a dish called Long Gone Fawn with Sun Fried Maggots.
“It’s so great to be back,” Beverage said as he cooked at the team’s deer camp themed booth. “We have been practicing a good bit. We’re ready. We’re going to try to sweep it this year.”
And sweep it they did. The team impressed the crowd and the three judges – Ed Blackford, a former competitor with the Coal Hollow Brothers; Dave Sibray, publisher of West Virginia Explorer magazine; and Bryan Vandigo, Mountain Grove Store owner.
PCB Buckbusters took first place, Best in Show and People’s Choice.
The competition may have been small, but it was still fierce with three new teams attempting to take on the Buckbusters.
Taking second place with an alligator and boar cajun inspired stew was the team from the Buckeye Variety Shop, led by Matt Swartz.
Third place went to the Fayette County Fryers, led by Ronnie Ashmore. The team made a vegetable soup with deer bratwurst, rabbit sausage and Cornish hen.
Also competing was Almost Heaven Smokehouse, led by Derek Hayhurst. The team had a wide variety of options for visitors and competed with a combo plate of bear chili, deer chili, elk jalapeño bratwurst and pheasant bratwurst.
The judges were thoroughly impressed with all the fare, stating that all the teams did a great job with what they served.
The cook-off was just part of the excitement taking place in Marlinton. The Autumn Harvest Festival filled the streets with vendors selling handmade goods and food and non-profit organizations sharing information about their work.
For those who weren’t adventurous enough to try the RoadKill, there were festival mainstays like the New Hope Lutheran Church’s baked potatoes, Marlinton Rotary’s pork rinds, Marlinton Lions Club’s pork barbecue sandwiches and the Pocahontas County High School football boosters’ pork tenderloin sandwiches.
As for handmade goods, visitors could have easily wrapped up their Christmas shopping with all there was to buy – jewelry, clothing, baked and canned goods, pottery, art and even wool dryer balls.
A great time was had by all, as they milled around town and enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek competition, visited with friends and visitors around the vendor tents and grooved to the eclectic music performed at Discovery Junction.
It was clear – nothing can dampen the fun that the RoadKill Cook-off and Autumn Harvest Festival bring – even if we did have to wait two years for it to return.