Lake Bluff snatched the trophy from defending champion Deerfield Saturday, Aug. 9, in the Bannockburn BBQ Challenge.
Ask Village Manager Maria Lasday, however, and there were hundreds of winners in the barbecue competition held at the Bannockburn Green Shopping Center.
“The real winners were the people of Bannockburn and the adjacent communities in southeast Lake County,” Lasday said. “It was a good way to have the communities come together.”
There more than 800 people in attendance, she said.
The people’s choice award was selected by every individual who chose to cast a ballot — Bannockburn got the overall nod there — and the trophy went to Lake Bluff after voting by a panel of judges that showed political bipartisanship at its best.
The judges who picked Lake Bluff first, Deerfield second and Lake Forest third were Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield), state Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), state Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood), Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor and county board member Ann Maine. Lawlor and Maine are Republicans.
Schneider promised transparency despite the secret ballot.
“If anyone asks I will tell them,” he said of his choice. “I will rely on my ability to taste barbecue.”
Deerfield also took second place in the citizen voting, behind Bannockburn, with Lincolnshire third. People like Peggy Doetsch of Lake Forest acknowledged it was a hard choice.
“All the ribs are good and the brisket is really tasty,” she said.
Colleen Sears, the young daughter of a Bannockburn police officer, was more certain in her decision.
“These are very good ribs,” she said at the Bannockburn booth. A majority of her fellow barbecue-goers agreed.
Mary Herrmann of Bannockburn had an easier method for casting her ballot.
“Civic pride,” she said.
Each team — Deerfield, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Bannockburn, Riverwoods, Lincolnshire and Kildeer — offered ribs, brisket and a side, all of which were up for judging.
The people’s voting selected Bannockburn for best ribs, Deerfield for the champion side and Lake Bluff for the winning brisket. The official judges agreed with the people on the best side but chose Lake Bluff for both top ribs and brisket. That tied Deerfield and Lake Bluff for the most mentions.
“We worked very hard to come up with the right mix,” Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal said.
To keep the competition even, all the meat and sauce came from one place. Heinen’s donated those ingredients, though its store in the shopping center in the former Dominick’s space was a few days from opening.
“Heinen’s was a winner too,” Lasday said. “It was a nice way to welcome Heinen’s to the community.”
The Cleveland-based, family-owned grocery chain set up a booth where everyone who spun the wheel of fortune won a prize, from a reusable shopping bag to a $50 gift card.