The word “spiedie” originated from the italian word for “skewer” which is “spiedini;” hence spiedies are traditionally skewered, marinated pieces of lamb.
In the 1920’s, three Iacovelli brothers brought this word to Endicott after leaving rural Italy.
Augustino Iacovelli popularized their family’s Zuzu spiedie marinade at his own restaurant, Augie’s, with the help of his brothers Camillo and Alphonso.
Paul VanSavage, a Binghamton native and friend of Rob Salamida sought to share this crowd favorite with a larger audience.
After hearing of Ribfest Chicago, he wanted to create the Spiedie Cooking Contest.
Paul VanSavage, cofounder of the Spiedie Fest, says, “I was following some news reports from Chicago where a reporter out there was talking about a ribfest in Grant Park, and it hit me that we have spiedies, they have ribs. So, I wrote to him and said, “What if we have a rib versus spiedie cookoff?” Never heard from him, but then the seed was planted.”
With the community in mind, VanSavage and Salamida set off to organize the first competition at Otsiningo Park in 1983.
The local paper advertised the event and Broome Transit buses brought guests from BCC to the park.
Over 11,000 people turned out for the event, raising 5,000 dollars for the American Cancer Society.
Rick Dodd, a judge from the original Spiedie Cooking Contest, is now helping to run the competition which is open to backyard chefs from across our area.
Rick Dodd, a judge for the Spiedie Cooking Contest, says, “There’s so much to do. We have great sports; we have great concerts, and this is a huge event that a lot of places don’t ever get to see, and to see balloonists from all over the world, literally, and bands that are pretty famous, and just enjoy the day.”
While VanSavage no longer runs the event, he says that watching the swarms of people return to Otsiningo Park for the weekend shows that his original idea had a lasting impact.