The Hippo


Jun 3, 2020








The Smoke Wagon in Weare. Courtesy photo.

Grilling it up
For a full fair meal, try barbecue

By Matt Ingersoll

 Fairs have all kinds of unique sweet, frozen and fried treats to offer each year, but barbecue and home-cooked meals are special in that they’re often “one-stop food shops” for families, whether it’s a pulled pork sandwich, grilled chicken wings or delicious side dishes.

The Smoke Shack Southern Barbecue in Boscawen will be returning to the Deerfield Fair for its 10th year. Unlike most of the vendors visiting the fair with a concession trailer or a tent, the Smoke Shack owns a self-contained building on the fair's grounds that is only open during the fair's four days each year. Private seating is available for fair patrons.
“I think having those home-cooked meals and comfort foods are what a lot of families look forward to,” said Josh Davis of the Smoke Shack.
The Smoke Shack offers everything on the barbecue from beef and pulled pork to smoked ribs and half chickens. Every dish is made from scratch and applewood smoked. Side dishes that are offered include homemade macaroni and cheese, baked beans, sweet potato salad, coleslaw and sweet potato and cajun french fries. Four flavors of dipping sauce are available, including a sweet barbecue sauce, a vinegar-based Carolina-style sauce, a mustard-based sauce and a chipotle barbecue sauce with smoked jalapeno peppers.
“It's kind of like cafeteria style,” Davis said. “You just come in and tell us what you would like on your plate and you can make your own combos up or order them as we have them.”
Normal prices include $12 for a main dish with two sides, plus $3 for a drink. The Smoke Shack will be offering a special senior discount that will consist of a half chicken dinner with two side dishes and a drink for just $8.
Mac ’n’ cheese and more
For the first time this year, Messy Mike's in Derry will be making an appearance at the Deerfield Fair. The company moved to New Hampshire from Massachusetts two months ago and will be bringing a special smoked bacon mac and cheese recipe to this year's festivities.
“It's always a huge hit wherever we go,” Mike Massiglia of Messy Mike's said. “We use a Sam Adams lager with it that makes it a unique blend.”
Messy Mike's will also be selling St. Louis smoked ribs, briskets and homemade side dishes like smoked barbecue beans, a southern potato salad and a vinegar-based coleslaw. This will be the company's only Granite State fair this year.
“I'm going to bring the smoker, and everything is going to be fresh onsite,” Massiglia said.
Hungry for homey?
Gary Shreve of The Smoke Wagon Barbecue in Weare said barbecue foods are unique at the fair because they offer a “homey” feeling as well as something for everybody.
“It's really not always the typical stuff that you might be expecting from some of the fried foods and some of the other stuff,” he said. “There are a lot of different ways to cook it, and everybody has their own style of flavor and how they want it.”
Shreve started The Smoke Wagon three years ago. He uses pellet smokers to cook everything onsite, and makes his own rubs and sauces for everything.
The Smoke Wagon will be among the vendors at this year's Hillsborough County Agricultural Fair. Shreve said he will be set up in a trailer with a tent in front of it to serve from.
“We'll have pulled pork, dry rubbed baby back ribs and steak and cheese,” he said. “Nothing is prepared ahead of time. … I wish I could do [our whole menu] at the fair, but we'll hopefully be expanding next year and doing at least three or four of them.”
Slow-cooked sandwiches
The oldest family vendors that will be appearing at both the Deerfield and Hopkinton fairs, Chesley's has been in the same family for six generations. The company appears at each fair in the form of a 40-foot trailer.
“We have followers that come back to us year in and year out,” said Allen MacKay of Chesley's, who also owns A&A Concessions and appears at car shows, festivals and other special events.
MacKay said sandwiches have become increasingly popular at their fair stands, using lemon broiled barbecue beef or barbecue pulled pork.
“[The meat] is not just something simple, it takes a while to cook it, at least 12 hours in some cases,” MacKay said. “It's also unique because it piques the interest of someone's taste buds. It's something new to them.” 

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