This September, make your way down to War Vets Park to be “swined,” wined and rocked all day long for a good cause. The United Way of Cattaraugus County will host its annual Swine, Wine & Music Festival on Saturday, Sept. 6 from 11am-6pm. With the help of Five Star Bank as an annual sponsor, and the festival’s new rib sponsor, Terrance Grant, the non-profit organization is gearing up for another successful event. Approximately 20 teams are expected to compete in the barbeque rib cook-off for the title of “Best Ribs” and “People’s Choice.”
“It’s a pay-as-you-play event, per se,” said Gail Vida Smith, Manager of Administration and Finance at the United Way of Cattaraugus County, Inc. “Rib samples for ‘People’s Choice’ will be $5 for 4 ribs, and each $5 purchase comes with a token. The token is the vote, which is placed in the jug of the rib team the purchaser likes best. The rib team with the most tokens wins the ‘People’s Choice’ award. Alternatively, the ‘Best Ribs’ award is determined by a scoring panel with blind samples being judged every five minutes.”
All proceeds from the ribs will directly benefit the United Way. “Funds raised will be added to our total campaign fund for allocation to agencies in our next funding cycle,” explained Smith. “We pride ourselves in supporting our United Way through our own payroll deductions and special event proceeds.”
Not a fan of ribs? Not to worry. The United Way has invited the Town of Olean Volunteer Fire Department to offer up its famous chicken barbeque at the festival. Proceeds from the chicken barbeque will benefit the department’s equipment needs, which range from vehicles to gear and tools. Tom Jaskolka, President of the Town of Olean Volunteer Fire Department, said the department is looking forward to participating. “We’re honored the United Way asked us to help out. We’re all about anything to help support the community.”
This year, anyone attending the festival will enjoy a new beat to his or her tasting tour. The United Way has decided to exchange the craft aspect of the festival for a “Battle of the Bands” competition. “The crafts were wonderful, but the lack of commerce to the booths led us to reconsider this facet,” Smith said. “Battle of the Bands will be our live entertainment for the festival, and we’ll have an array of musical genres. The competition will be decided by a money vote with large drums placed in front of a stage with each band’s name on a barrel. We’re excited to see how Battle of the Bands will increase our attendance and proceeds.”
Returning to this year’s Swine Festival is the variety of home brewers that will sample out their wines and beers. As Smith explained, “They each bring a bottle of their favorite wine or beer, and the judges score each variety using a standard score sheet.”
Also attending this year’s festival is Millie’s Dawgs, a mobile food cart serving up more tasty alternatives to ribs, and Sanzo Beverage will offer an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages. Face painting and kid crafts will be available throughout the day, which combines perfectly with War Vets Park’s playground area to make this festival a true family-friendly event.
With approximately 500 rib fans in attendance at last year’s festival, Smith is grateful for the “platoon of volunteers” that come out each year to help with the event. “We use between 50-100 folks in preparation and execution of this event,” she said, “from board members and United Way funded personnel to friends, family and donors. We are truly blessed to work and play here in Cattaraugus County. We may be a rural area, but our people are tight!” For more information about this year’s Swine, Wine & Music Festival, or to donate to the United Way Campaign, visit www.uwcattco.org or call 716-372-3620.