The Episcopal Church of the Creator's Stew Crew at work
(photo courtesy the Church of the Creator)
Warm up with a variety of stews for $1 per sample or purchase it by the quart at the 13th annual Brunswick Stew Festival
from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 3) at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market in Shockoe Bottom. The festival attracts 15 to 20 stew masters with their own take on the classic Virginia soup.
Each year, festival attendees vote on their favorite traditional and nontraditional Brunswick stews. (In 2011, top honors went to the Episcopal Church of the Creator in Mechanicsville and to Ribs, Rolls and Cheesecake.) This year, the winners will each take home a grand prize of $750. Stew is available for purchase by the quart starting at 1 p.m., but attendees have to get in line early.
“We sell out in 15 minutes,” says Anna Barclay of the Church of the Creator’s Stew Crew. However, her team also takes orders for the church’s “December Big Stew,” when they produce 1800 quarts. Barclay's husband, Bob, is the stew master who led the Stew Crew to victory last year, claiming a first in the nontraditional, or "most original," category. Anna says that his secret is the spices he puts in. "He's got it so refined," she adds. "He has a spread sheet for the ingredients," ensuring the correct proportions for the amount of stew that's being made.
In addition to Brunswick stew, Saturday's event features live music and more than 70 vendors.