Lambstock 2014: A Chef-Focused Weekend at Border Springs Farm

Let it be known that I am not a camper. So, what could possibly possess me – a unabashed city girl – to pack up my car and drive five hours south to camp out in a field filled with ticks, spiders and sheep poo (oh my!) in the middle of rural Virginia?

The answer is LAMBSTOCK, a four-day food-and-drink festival at Border Springs Farm in Patrick Springs, Virginia that has a reputation as being a kind of Woodstock for chefs… if you’re in-the-know enough to have heard of it.

Lambstock-- the main pavilion

The main pavilion and the Ewe Rock stage

 

Border Springs is known for having some of the best-tasting lamb in the U.S., and shepherd Craig Rogers has been hosting this event for 5 years as a way to connect chefs to his pasture-raised product. In its early years, Lambstock started small—word is that the first one began when Frederick, Maryland chef Bryan Voltaggio asked if he could bring some of his chefs down to visit the farm… and camp in the pasture for the night. Other chefs heard and converged on the farm, and thus Lambstock was born.

Lambstock-- tatted up

One year, Lambstock had a real tattoo artist set up and ready to give lamb-themed tattoos. This year, the temporary tattoo was all the rage.

 

Last weekend’s event drew about 150 chefs, mixologists, distillers, brewers, industry professionals and, yes, bloggers from New York down to Alabama and as far west as Kentucky. There is no structure to the event, no demonstrations, no planned meals or organized talks… People arrive continually throughout the weekend, bringing with them huge coolers filled with fresh produce and proteins. The days are filled with cooking, eating, drinking, conversing, relaxing. It’s just pure, unadulterated, foodie heaven with the best food you can imagine coming out constantly from dawn through the wee hours of the night.

Lambstock-- masters at work

Border Springs Shepherd Craig Rogers and Ben from South Philly Barbacoa get to work butchering a whole lamb. Truly masters at work.

 

Lambstock-- a mid-day snack

This was literally an afternoon snack. Seriously. (This plate was split between 3 of us, thank goodness.)

 

Lambstock-- ScreamingBelly's midnight pizza!

Jon Roberts, wood-fired oven creator and late night pizza chef gets to work around midnight

 

I attended the event as a volunteer, invited by my twitter friend and Lambstock volunteer coordinator, John Park. As a volunteer, my job was to help wherever was needed, and throughout the weekend my tasks ranged from chopping up veggies, setting up for and cleaning up after meals, helping check in new arrivals and—my favorite— assisting with the morning bloody mary service.

friends at work

Friends and fellow volunteers Ninette and Amy chop some garlic for the morning hash

 

volunteers JP

Some of the volunteers  (photo credit: John Park)

 

Even as a volunteer, I had plenty of downtime, which I enjoyed to the fullest. What I loved most about Lambstock is that it draws some of the region’s best chefs but they leave egos at the door. As one very nice D.C. chef told me, “As a chef, I have to be an asshole 6 days out of the week. But here, I’m on vacation.” And, that’s just it. Lambstock isn’t chefs being chefs and running the show—it’s about chefs doing what they love together when they’re just hanging out. It was so fun getting to watch as they shared ideas and ingredients; bones left over from one chef become used in the gravy of another’s dish. It was like a jam session of chefs.

I left the weekend exhausted, dirty, full and smelling like a campfire. And I loved it. Lambstock 2014: SUCCESS!

Here are some of my favorite moments from the weekend…

Lambstock-- the shepard and his flock

Craig Rogers talks about his herd to a rapt audience

 

Lambstock-- Texel sheep

One of Craig’s Texel sheep

 

tent city

Tent city on day 1. The number of tents doubled over the course of the weekend.

 

view from my tent

The view from my tent

 

my tent aka the taj mahal

Inside my tent… aka the Taj Mahal. Ha!

 

Bloody Mary for breakfast

Good morning!

 

Lambstock-- the shepard gets his morning beverage

Craig gets a hand-delivered bloody mary

 

cake for breakfast!

Cake for breakfast… omg!

 

Lambstock-- Guas biscuits and lamb gravy

Freshly made buttermilk biscuits and lamb sausage gravy from chef David Guas of VA’s Bayou Bakery. My favorite!!

 

Rappahannock Oysters with Pickled Watermelon

Freshly shucked oysters with Pickled Watermelon from Rappahannock Oyster Co. is a popular mid-day snack

 

Lambstock-- Border Springs LAMB!

Spit-roasted Border Springs lamb

 

fresh gourds and squashes

Fresh gourds and squashes– so colorful!

 

Lambstock-- grilling

Every hot surface is in use from dawn to dusk

 

Lambstock-- grilled peaches and meat

Grilled peaches and rolled lamb courtesy of chef Ian Boden from The Shack in Staunton, VA.

 

Lambstock-- ribs

Ribs

 

Lambstock-- me getting food- JP

Filling up my plate (Photo credit: John Park)

 

Lambstock-- cheese and crackers

Cheese, salami and artisan bread makes for a good pre-dinner snack

 

Lambstock-- TOPO spirits and Crude bitters

Fantastic local spirits from NC’s TOPO Distillery and Crude Bitters made for some buzz-worthy cocktails

 

Lambstock-- Fullsteam Brewery

This Fullsteam Fearrington Summer beer with Blackberry-Lemon Verbena syrup was a highlight of Day 1.

 

Lambstock-- Peach Pickleback shot

Things got a little rowdy when we started doing pickleback shots of TOPO Moonshine chased with a shot of picked peach juice

 

Lambstock-- the Ewe stage

At night the Ewe Rock stage was full of tunes from artists like the Breedings (not pictured.)

 

Lambstock-- a proposal!

Lambstock’s very first proposal! (She said “yes!”)

 

Lambstock-- the spider!

And, yeah, a super creepy spider somehow found its way into my tent. EEEK!

 

Lambstock--  the spider hunters

My spider-hunting friend Peter Russo of Savannah. The bottles were to help me forget that I had a huge spider in my tent. It didn’t work.

 

Lambstock--  new friend bearing gifts

Gary from Detroit shared two bottles of Vernors Ginger Ale pop with me… so nice!

 

Lambstock-- me and John Park

Me and John Park. He did a heroes job wrangling all of the volunteers- great work!

 

Lambstock-- James helps me pack up

It was pouring as I packed up to leave. Luckily James showed up just in time to give me a helping hand. Thanks, James!

 

Lambstock-- the pasture

A final view of the Border Springs pasture, with a herd of sheep in the distance. Beautiful place!

 

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7 Responses to Lambstock 2014: A Chef-Focused Weekend at Border Springs Farm

  1. Mrs. Hungry Asian August 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Nice write up! So glad that you were able to come and enjoy it.

  2. Sean Lilly Wilson August 15, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    JAMES!

    • John August 17, 2014 at 12:17 am #

      Don’t.

    • Christina Ricchiuti August 18, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      I know!! And I have to say that he was SUCH a sweetheart. Poor kid…

  3. Charles McCool August 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    Lamb is not one of my favorites. I do not avoid it but I almost always pick something else instead. If I attended Lambstock, though, I am sure I would be totally converted.
    Charles McCool recently posted..Pittsburgh Road TripMy Profile

    • Christina Ricchiuti August 18, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

      I have no doubt… I am a fan of lamb (I am part Greek, after all) but the lamb at Border Springs is the best I’ve had.

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