STANDING on Denmark Street in the midst of a row of smoking, red-hot barbecues, New Yorker Roger MacArthur explained the history behind “grilling and smoking”.
“The thing about barbecuing - people think its grilling, but barbecuing actually has its roots in poor people having to cook the off cuts of the animal,” he explains.
“They had to cook low and slow - a lot of the shoulders and belly ribs and that type of thing.
“The food that I am doing is all representative of that, so it has an honesty to it.”
The American, who specialises in “authentic southern style foods” and was cooking for Limerick based company A Room Outside, had mouths salivating at his beef, marinated in blueberry habanero pepper sauce and stuffed with marinated mushrooms.
As he nodded to his butterfly pork, filled with apricot and honey stuffing, Roger admitted that his fare was “a little more unusual than what many people think grilling is all about”.
This is the beauty of the Coors Light Riverfest BBQ, an event that attracts diverse cooking styles and which boasted 55 teams in total this year, making it the largest in Europe and the centre-piece of the tenth Riverfest festival.
“This is my first year being at Riverfest and it has been an incredible experience,” said celebrity chef Clodagh McKenna, a judge in the event.
“There is an incredible atmosphere and such goodwill, and the food was absolutely delicious,” she added.
Eoghan Prendergast of Limerick Marketing Company predicted that the “huge variety” of events over the weekend - including the Great Limerick Run - would see Riverfest vastly exceed its expected targets, generating an income way beyond the €5.5m anticipated.
A huge mix of events, from the Fashion Friday catwalk to the Soap Box Derby, the Continental Fair, craft fair, fireworks, performances by Fidget Feet, the bartender’s run and the Limerick City Challenge - there was something for everyone over teh weekend.
“We were expecting upwards of 50,000 people to attend but the numbers attending went way beyond that, with an estimated 80,000 people attending,” said Mr Prendergast.
“Riverfest’s reputation is growing and it is now most definitely on the map as a major festival for the nation, the first one of the summer season, and not just one for Limerick people.
“A huge amount of work has gone into building up Riverfest over the past ten years and this weekend it crystalized into probably the busiest weekend ever for the city,” he added.