Rinaldi with Myron Mixon, celebrity chef and four-time barbecue World Champion.
HINSDALE, Mass. — Professional barbecue teams from all over New England will compete at the Harpoon BBQ Festival in Windsor, Vt., on July 27-28, with hopes of being crowned the grand champion and earning a ticket to the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue.
And Berkshire County's own George Rinaldi will be among them.
Rinaldi, 54, of Hinsdale, has been competing on the professional Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned circuit for eight years. He and his family travel to six or seven competitions annually. They've been all over New England, as well as in New Jersey, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas. At a typical event, competitors must deliver their entries in four categories (chicken, ribs, pork and brisket) to the master judges by pre-specified times — and not a second later.
Rinaldi's skills have earned many trophies, including a first-place prize for his Ribs Division win at a recent competition in New Jersey.
"There are usually anywhere from 35 to 60 teams at each competition," Rinaldi said. "I try to stay in the top 10."
As his reputation has grown locally, he's begun taking on small weekend catering jobs to supplement his full-time work in the Facilities Department at Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America's Pittsfield office.
For Rinaldi, it all started several years ago when he was walking to a friend's house and smelled what he what he said was a heavenly scent.
"My friend said, 'I'm smoking sausage,' and then he showed me the smoker he was using," Rinaldi remembered. "Since that day, I've known what I wanted to do. I've been fortunate to have been trained by Myron Mixon, to have a strong mentor in Daryl Strickland and several good friends, including Kenny Nadeau, who are committed to my success."
Before embarking on the professional barbecue circuit, Rinaldi took two professional classes — one in Maryland and one in Alabama. He now owns two smokers — a Lang 84-inch Reverse Flow Smoker and a Myron Mixon G33 Gravity-Feed Smoker — and must choose between them when traveling to a competition based on what he'll be preparing.
"I have excellent support this year, with sponsorships from Market 32, North Elm Butcher Block and Uncle Kenny's BBQ Sauce," he said.
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Berkshires Beat: Berkshire Equestrian Center to Host Horse Show Benefiting Berkshire Humane Society
Benefit horse show
After 25 years of hosting the Berkshire Humane Society Horse Show, Overmeade Farm has passed the reins to the Berkshire Equestrian Center in Richmond. Through the support of the Hart Family and Overmeade Farm, the horse show has raised more than $250,000 during the lifetime of the event. Berkshire Humane Society is excited to begin a new partnership with Berkshire Equestrian Center.
This event is recognized by the Western New England Professional Horseman's Association. Riders participate in hunter and equitation classes, both on the flat and over fences. The show offers riders of all ages and skills an opportunity to compete while helping raise critical funds that support the programs and services of Berkshire Humane Society. BHS has provided care to thousands of homeless animals over the past 27 years, and the horse show is one event that makes this lifesaving work possible.
Divisions to be held include: Short/Long Stirrup, Baby Green Hunter, Low/Adult Hunter, Novice Hunter, Pre-Children’s/Adult Equitation, Junior/Amateur Hunter, Children’s Equitation, Pony Hunter, Children’s Hunter Horse, Modified Junior Equitation, Junior Equitation, Adult Equitation, among others.
"We are so excited that the horse show has returned," said John Perreault, executive director for BHS. "This event is a great way for people of all ages to combine their love of horses and their compassion for all companion animals. We cannot thank Overmeade Farm and Berkshire Equestrian Center enough for their support. The Hart Family has made this event what it is today, and we’re thankful that Sarah Hogue at Berkshire Equestrian Center wants to continue this summer tradition that celebrates horses and helps homeless pets."
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