NEW MARKET – Only a handful of shady spots were available Saturday afternoon in the community park for the inaugural Jammin’ Foods Fest.
Throughout the day, masses flocked to the communal gathering place to feast on food truck fare, do a little shopping and take in the sultry sounds of local bands.
While the foodies and music lovers lounged in the shade, Jeff and Carlee Iverson worked through a broken air conditioner to sling pork delicacies of all kinds — of special interest was the Cuban, a combination of ham, pork, mustard and a pickle, pressed like a panini.
The Cuban, Jeff Iverson said, is one of the more popular items but also causes some consternation with hungry guests as it takes the longest to make.
Pigs with Wings, Jeff and Carlee Iverson’s part-time gig, is “sinfully good” and only available on weekends. Two years ago, the Iversons branched out and decided they would try to make some money off of Jeff’s incessant cooking and Carlee’s delectable sauces.
“We wanted to incorporate one main protein and then branch off and offer different opportunities,” Carlee Iverson said.
Besides a passion for smoking meats and making sauces, the only connection to the food service industry was that Carlee Iverson’s parents and grandparents owned a restaurant. Neither Jeff nor Carlee Iverson had any experience, though.
Stuffed into the back of a truck no more than 15 feet long is a deep fryer — large enough for two baskets — a griddle, panini press, smoker, cutting board, wash station and counter. With no more than two feet to move back and forth, the Iversons work their magic on a wide range of pork-centric dishes.
While pork is the staple, the Iversons branched out to chicken wings as well. The deep-fried morsels are a hit and attracted Madaya Greene, a New Market native, to come back for seconds.
“It was juicy, it was fried,” Greene said about the wings. “It was really juicy. It was really good.”
The Iversons said days of prep go into a one-day event. Bringing the pork takes two days. Organizing the baskets for food and stocking fridges is a process all unto itself.
The key to high-quality food, they said, is the time and effort that goes into it.
“We call it fresh food,” Carlee Iverson said. “Not fast food.”
Amber Smoot, New Market’s events and marketing director, said the event was harder to gauge than festivals such as Cross Roads when crowds all come and go together.
“The park’s so big, it looks like there’s not a lot of people here. But there are,” she said. “They’re just all spread out.”
Music and food, Smoot said, are easy ways to bring people together. This event, she said, was just the first of what she hopes becomes an annual festival that will grow along with the town.
“People like to try different foods. They like to hang out with family and friends and that’s what small towns are about,” Smoot said. “That’s what we want to do. We want to bring everyone together.”