Jay Reeder of Clear Spring, center, was named the grand champion of the 12th Annual Maryland State BBQ Bash in Bel Air Saturday. (DAVID ANDERSON AEGIS STAFF / August 10, 2013)

There was plenty of barbecue sauce to go around at the Holly P. Saucery tent Saturday afternoon, but no meat, to the misfortune of one visitor to the 12th Annual Maryland State BBQ Bash in Bel Air.

"Where's the beef?" the man asked as he walked by the tent, one of a series of vendor tents lining the Thomas Street section of the bash, which spread throughout the parking lots serving the Mary E.W. Risteau State Office Building at South Bond and Thomas streets.

Visitors could stroll through the vendor areas and beer and wine garden, and sample food, drink, crafts, children's activities in the Little Piggies Fun Zone, visit with local politicians, or those hoping to unseat them in 2014, participate in raffles and get information on local government services or businesses.

They were also treated to live music from the WXCY 103.7 FM Main Stage.


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Holly Remus, a Bel Air native and creator of the sauces and owner of Holly P. Saucery, told the visitor he could find his fill of meat at the various food vendors, and bring it back to be paired with either of her award-winning sauces, Mad Apple, spicy with sweet apple flavor, or Yeller Belly, spicy mustard-based Carolina-style sauce.

"They perfect the meat; we perfect the heat, how about that?" Remus said.

Remus, 25 and a 2005 graduate of Bel Air High School, is a registered nurse who lives on a 400-acre dairy farm in Upstate New York.

She began making her own sauces when she could not find her favored Cattleman's Gold sauce in New York.

Remus entered her sauces in the 2011 and 2012 Amateur Creative Sauce Off of the National Buffalo Wing Festival, and won first place both times.

"I couldn't find the [Cattlemen's Gold], and so I decided I would make my own," she explained.

Visitors to the BBQ Bash could get samples of the Mad Apple and Yeller Belly sauces from Remus and her friends and family members at the tent; Remus offered tastes to Nick DeMicco of Bel Air.

DeMicco said he favored the Mad Apple, which he described as ideal "if you're looking for a spicy sauce that won't kill you after you eat it, but it will give you that spice before."

Remus said she plans to produce a third sauce soon, and more information can be found on the Holly P. Saucery page on Facebook or http://www.hollypsaucery.com.

'The best one yet'

The Maryland State Barbecue Bash is put on by the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, and Executive Director Scott Walker said this year's event, with an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people coming through Friday and Saturday, could be "the best one yet."

Sixty-one cook teams participated, the largest number ever for the professional competition Saturday; 43 amateur teams were also scheduled to take part in their competition Friday.

Their creations were reviewed by judges certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

"Everything leading to this weekend has been pointing to good stuff, and then the weather has been making it happen," Walker said.

Craig Ward, who founded the BBQ Bash, said about 20 teams competed during the first bash in 2002; said slightly more than 60 teams was the maximum for the available space in downtown Bel Air.

"We've maxed out the space we have without making it uncomfortable," he said.