The Yokels play during the MainStreet Roswell Centennial Fiddle & Griddle Festival, Saturday. Mark Wilson Photo
People from all over the country traveled to downtown Roswell this weekend to attend the very first Fiddle & Griddle Festival, enjoying an abundance of live musical entertainment and delectable foods. With 21 fiddlers and seven barbecue cook-off contestants vying for $28,000 in prize money, all of the action took place on Main Street, which was blocked off for the event from Second to Fifth streets on Friday and Saturday.
“Everybody just pitched in and made it happen,” said Dusty Huckabee, festival organizer. “I think this is going to be an event that’s going to last for years to come. …
“With this festival, we’re going back to our roots, which is farming and ranching. And that’s what built the Pecos Valley.”
Cook-off contestants vied for BBQ supremacy in three categories: chicken, pork ribs and beef brisket. Zana and Dave Wood from Las Cruces placed first in the chicken and pork ribs categories, and captured the overall grand prize. The duo, whose team name is Burnt Wood, took home $3,200 in total prize money.
Zana Wood said this was the couple’s first barbecue contest. “It’s a great event. I think it gets a lot of backyard barbecuers, which is what we are, interested in doing this. … With the other contestants, the camaraderie — this is just amazing.”
Cindy Wilson, head judge, commented, “The judging was close; for the grand prize, it came down to one point. So between first and second it was that close. I think that all of them did a fabulous job, with some of the best barbecue that any of us have had in our whole life!”
The oldest and youngest contestants in the fiddler competition each took first place in their respective categories. Marilyn Short, from Roswell, won first prize in the over-60 category; Coby Carter, from Portales, won first in the 17-and-under category. Short and Carter each won $2,500. Jaclyn Sites, from Rigby, Idaho, took first in the 18-59 category, and went on to capture the grand prize in the Fiddle Finalists Competition, earning $4,500 in total prize money.
Peggy Seskey, MainStreet Roswell president, commented, “The performances were spectacular. They were every bit what you would get in Nashville or Branson, very much above our expectations. You couldn’t go anywhere to see finer entertainment. …
“They played their hearts out in this heat, and it was very hot today!”
Seskey said the overall reaction to Roswell’s new festival was very positive. “Everybody enjoyed this; they’re already asking what day we’re going to have it next year. … We’ve had positive feedback from all of the vendors — they love being on Main Street. They love being here, and not tucked away outside of town. They feel that it’s a great festival atmosphere. …
“The fiddlers have also just praised the town of Roswell; they said the hotels and the restaurants have been great to them. So it’s been really neat.”
Seskey said Fiddle & Griddle is the latest addition to a long line of fun events in the city.
“Fiddle & Griddle is unique, but all of our festivals are,” she said. “I’ve heard several people this weekend comment that Roswell is going to be known nationwide as a friendly, fun city. They said, ‘We hear you always have fun here!’ … So we have the Piñata Fest, we have the Chile Cheese Festival, we have the Dragonfly Festival, and all of the volunteers who put it on, make everybody want to come back.”