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Getting Ready for the Naptown barBAYq Contest and Music Festival

Three years in, I’m planning ahead for optimal success

I didn’t move to Annapolis three years ago because our capital city hosts a barbeque festival. The Naptown barBAYq was one of those pleasant discoveries I made after arrival.
    That happy coincidence has helped me realize that how we experience is just as important as what we experience. With the Parole Rotary’s 2014 Naptown barBAYq Contest and Music Festival just around the corner — May 3 and 4 — I’m planning to maximize the experience.
    My first year, 2012, my wife and I went to have dinner. We bought the VIP ticket for $35 each and got to taste more styles of pulled pork than I’d ever dreamed of. The barbeque was great. I could hear the bands in the background, but music is more my thing than my wife’s, so we didn’t linger to enjoy it.
    Last year, wife and I decided that as barbeque and music were my things, I would go alone. I’d miss her company, but I’d get to spend more time at the event. I went on Saturday for extended lunch and listening. Much better.
    This year, I’m planning for the optimum experience. Instead of a mere lunch or dinner, I’m going to the whole festival, attending from Saturday morning though Sunday afternoon. I’m looking forward to lots of music and barbeque sampling, but that’s not all. This year, I’m attending the judging school on Sunday afternoon. This is an official Kansas City Barbeque Society class, so in the future I can fulfill a bucket list wish: judging a barbecue contest.
    This year, I’m also changing how I experience the music. Last year, I wandered around, stopping when I heard music I liked. This year, with over 40 acts on three stages, advanced planning is required.
    My wife says I don’t like anything that was written or recorded after 1980. She’s right, although she makes it sound like a bad thing. We all like the music we grew up with, so I can’t relate to Dropkick Murphy any more than my parents could relate to the Beatles and the Stones.
    Last year I stumbled onto Shenandoah Run, a very talented folk group that I have since seen at several other venues. They’re returning this year and are on my listening plan.
    Weather is another variable we can’t control, but we can control how we experience it. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the forecasts to make sure I’m prepared for what’s coming. After all, If I was able to endure the rain and mud at Woodstock all those years ago and still have a good time, I should be able to manage a couple of days regardless of the weather.
    Good barbeque and good music trump even the worst of storms.

Naptown barBAYq Contest and Music Festival: Saturday May 3 and Sunday May 4 at Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, Crownsville. $10 until April 25, $15 after; under 13 free. People’s Choice tasting Sa 2:30-5:00pm: $10; KCBS Judging School Su 11am-3pm: $125: www.BarBAYq.com.