— By Gary Perkins
Almost overnight it became fall, with the burn ban lifted, that special crispness in the air, mums and pumpkins everywhere and all the planning coming together for this year's “Smokin' the Fort-BBQ & bluegrass Festival.”
Our 4th annual event, scheduled for Oct. 26-27, is building up to be our best ever. New applications for KCBS BBQers, vendors and Tasters Choice competitors are coming in almost daily.
Some of the biggest news is that this year's payout has been increased to well over $7,000. That includes $6,000 to the KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society) competitors and $1,000 to Tasters Choice.
Plus cash payouts will be given to “Anything Goes” and “Kids Que” contests, along with various trophies and plaques.
Entry to the KCBS portion of the competition is $175, for a 20X40 space. These professional cookers will be arriving all day Oct. 26 to begin the process of preparing and cooking meat in four different categories — chicken, ribs, pork and brisket.
Payouts will be to the top 10 teams in each category. Deciding the ranking of these teams is done by KCBS Certified Judges.
Entry in the Tasters Choice competition is free with much of the meat provided, although each competitor can supplement the provided chicken and brisket with their own meat.
The meat does not have to be prepared on location, but must be prepared in traditional barbecue style. Cash payouts will be to the top three teams as decided by judges.
Plus a plaque will be given to the top team as judged by the public. Entry into “Anything Goes” is open to anyone, and there is a fee of $20 with a cash pay off of $200.
For this cook off there are no rules — anything goes. Likewise, a “Kids Que” entry is $20 with a total payout of $100 to the top three competitors.
This competition is open to all kids under the age of 16, and they will be given a specific item (hotdog or hamburger) to season and cook.
Both of these events take place on Friday evening, beginning at 7 p.m., and are judged by local judges. Entry forms for all of these categories are online at www.fortgibson.com, or by contacting me at the chamber, firstname.lastname@example.org or (918) 577-2069.
As in years past, taster kits will be available for the public to purchase for $5, which includes a bottomless plate and a drink to be able to taste all the wonderful delights whipped up by the Tasters Choice BBQers.
Included with your taster kit will be a ticket that can be used to cast your ballot for the competitor that appealed to your taste buds the most.
Also included in our event is music both Friday evening and all day Saturday. Friday evening will feature DJ Cody Busch, who will be playing an array of great country music for your listening or dancing delight.
Also out Friday evening will be local church and club vendors adding substance and meaning to the evening.
All local churches and clubs have been invited to set up booths free of charge, to use as either a fund-raiser or to just pass out information.
No political candidates Friday evening, however. Saturday features that great live Bluegrass music all day, being performed by The Meyer Family, The Park Family and SpringStreet.
Additionally, both food and merchandise vendors will be available to even further tempt your taste buds.
As in years past, Saturday's vendors are prohibited from selling or giving away any meat products or drinks.
Those commodities are available with the taster kits. Also available throughout our event will be the great new T-shirt design, featuring Beauregard the Bull and a few of his friends — gettin’ down in the oldest town. In all it promises to be our biggest and best barbecue event yet.
A special shout out to our sponsors for this year's event. Primary sponsor this year is the Cherokee Casino-Fort Gibson, and we appreciate the support and input they have given both for this year and the years to come.
Additional major sponsors (so far) include: Fort Gibson State Bank, The Clinkenbeard Agency, Cook Construction, Armstrong Bank, and Yaffe Metal Works.
All sponsors will have their name on the back of this year's T-shirt with major sponsors getting additional exposure, both in print and on the air. If you want to be part of this great event, just give me a call.