Entering the west gate at the 120th annual Humboldt County Fair on Wednesday afternoon, I was drawn to the tantalizing smell from the third annual Surf & Turf Barbecue Contest. A large crowd was at the racetrack grandstands sampling the free seafood, pork, beef and poultry. The offerings were quite a contrast in taste and quality from the usual "fried anything" fare.
The barbecue specialties were also submitted to a judging contest overseen for the second year by guest expert chef Guy Fieri, who grew up in Ferndale. The volunteer judges got some helpful advice on what to look for and how to evaluate the taste of the contest entries from Fieri.
"The quality of the food, especially the seafood, was outrageous," said Fieri at the awards ceremony. "None of the judges sent any of it to the dog bowl."
Mike Barrer Barbecue of Ferndale won the Grand Championship Award trophy for its entry.
A visit to the fair is never complete for me without a tour of the livestock barns and a look at the midway rides. The highlight this year was watching a group of youngsters participating in the entry-level showmanship competitions with their Boer goats.
The fair continues on Friday through Sunday. The dairy cow, goat and vegetable auction and 4-H large animal round-robin competition will be on Saturday, followed by the Junior Livestock Auction on Sunday.