FAIRMONT - Pork nachos, Cuban pork sandwiches and "pigtails" were up for sampling at the 16th annual Martin County Blue Ribbon Pork Cook-Off on Wednesday evening at the Martin County Fair.
Those lucky 400 attendants with tickets had five dishes to taste and rank in several categories, from appearance, flavor, pork quality, texture and originality. Along with the people's choice, three pork connoisseurs also sample and judge the dishes.
Green Mill of Fairmont was the first-place selection of the professional judges with its "Deconstructed Cuban Sandwich," and also took second place in the people's choice awards.
The annual Martin County Blue Ribbon Pork Cook-Off remains a sold-out event at the Martin County Fair each year. This crowd shot shows the Green Mill team preparing its dish for the competition — a “Deconstructed Cuban Pork Sandwich.” The dish won first place in the professional judges’ choice and second place in the people’s choice category.
In the rest of the judges selections, second place went to Pillar's Pub of Jackson for "Pillars Pigtails," which wrapped pork and a cream-cheese and pepper filling inside strips of bacon. Pillars Pigtails was the third-place dish in the people's choice category.
The judges' third-place award went to The Marina Lodge of Fairmont for its spicy pulled pork sandwich.
The people's choice this year went to Baileys Restaurant and Bar in Ormsby for its Super Pork Nachos, with the people being allowed to select exactly what fixings besides nacho cheese and pork went on their samples.
Also participating was The Lakes Sports Bar and Grill of Lake Crystal, which also served pork nachos, combined with a light amount of coleslaw.
Bob Wallace of the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce, which helps organize the event, said the Pork Cook-Off sells out earlier and earlier each year.
"We had a waiting list of about 50 people," he said.
Judges for the Pork Cook-Off this year were Tim McCarthy, executive chef sodexo of the Mayo Foundation House in Rochester; David Preisler, executive director of the Minnesota Park Production Association; and Jeremy Neppl, owner of Restaurant 1856 in Arnold's Park, Iowa.
The Pork Cook-Off raises funds for scholarships for area students who plan to study in ag-related fields, and raises about $8,400 in scholarship money each year.
Sponsors for the scholarships include: AgStar, Bank Midwest, Devenish Nutrition, Cargill, Dutch Creek Farms, Fairmont Vet Clinic and Preferred Capital Management.
The Pork Cook-Off is sponsored by the Martin County Pork Producers and Agri-Business Community Chamber of Commerce.