By Gary Perkins
It was a great week at the Chamber as we transition between events and anticipate the arrival of fall temperatures. We also anticipate the arrival of the fifth annual Smokin’ the Fort BBQ & Bluegrass Festival, scheduled for Oct. 25-26.
The BBQ committee has been hot at work refining the plans for this greatly anticipated event. The event brings thousands of BBQ-hungry families and fans to our downtown area.
More than $7,000 in cash prizes, trophies, and awards are given out during this KCBS-sanctioned competition. It has been proclaimed “Smokin’ the Fort BBQ Day” in Oklahoma, by Gov. Mary Fallin.
In addition to being a state championship competition, we also feature our local “Taster’s Choice” competition, which pays out more than $1,000 in cash and awards to local BBQers based on both crowd appeal and judges.
It is this BBQ competition that allows the public to taste all the BBQ delights and vote on their favorite. Our event always kicks off on Friday evening with the KCBS “Meet the Cooks” party, along with music, local vendors, and “Kids Que” and “Anything Butt” cooking competition.
Just to wander around downtown on Oct. 25 and smell the aroma in the air is a mystical thing in itself.
All local clubs, churches, and civic groups are invited to set up a vendor or fundraising booth Friday evening — free of charge — and sell their wares for their various organizations and fundraising necessities. These groups are allowed to sell food and drinks of any kind (non-alcoholic), or merchandise goods, to help their cause.
The festive mood continues Saturday with all the great smells in the air, along with other food and merchandise vendors, bluegrass music from live bands, and as mentioned, the chance to taste all the great “Taster’s Choice” BBQ. Taster kits and drinks will be sold at the Chamber booth.
Always a great time for the family to come downtown and see and meet all the professional cooks and their equally impressive smokers and travel rigs, as most of them go around the entire country in their quest for the coveted “Grand Champion” BBQ title.
We are always looking for volunteers, financial donors, vendors, and participants in either the KCBS competition or the Taster’s Choice portion of the competition. If you are interested, please call Brad Clinkenbeard at (918) 781-9424, or myself at (918) 577-2069. You may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or smokinthefort@gmail.
Letters are going out this week and next, to those who have participated in the past, but we want everyone to know that they too can be involved. So give us a call.
Our weekly Chamber luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Subway on South Lee Street. This past week, we had a great crowd with Mark Young, Justin Young and son Westin, Cheryl Hill, Mitzi Bradley, Cliff Garrett, Kathy Perkins, Sue Edwards, Wendy Burton, and myself.
The Fort Gibson Farmer’s Market has been going very well with vendors showing up most all times of the day each Thursday. In the future, we will probably just declare Thursday as Farmer’s Market Day at Langston Park and let the individual vendor show up at the time that best suits them. It is good to see such a good response to this seasonal promotion.