By Travis Sloat
Zach Lee said he can’t wait to drive into downtown Fort Gibson on Saturday just for the smell alone.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Lee said, “I’m excited to taste the barbecue as well. This is an awesome event. We try to come out every year.”
Lee is one of the many who are ready to experience the 4th annual Smokin’ the Fort BBQ and Bluegrass Festival taking place Friday and Saturday.
The event draws locals and guests from all over, all seeking the taste of good smoked barbecue and the pleasant sounds of down-home, Bluegrass music played live by some local bands.
Lee said he couldn’t think of a better place for the festival to be held.
“I’ve always loved this town,” he said. “It’s a great, family fun event in a great, family fun town. We look forward to it every year.”
Gary Perkins, the executive director for the Fort Gibson Chamber of Commerce, said this year two local news celebrities would be making appearances.
“Kristin Dickerson from News Channel 8 and Travis Meyer from the News on 6 will both be coming down.” Perkins said. “That is if there are no emergency situations that they have to deal with.”
Perkins also said Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed Saturday as “Smokin’ the Fort Day.” On Friday evening, there will be the “Anything Goes” portion of the cooking competition, as well as the “Kids-Cue” cooking competition.
There will be a dee-jay turning the tables for a street dance contest, and also an opportunity to meet the cooks for Saturday’s cooking competition.
Saturday is when the taste testing starts, and festival-goers will have the opportunity to purchase a taste testing kit for $5, which includes a drink and all the barbecue you can “taste.”
Several live bluegrass bands will accompany the competition including The Mayer Family, The Park Family, and SpringStreet.
Mayor Steven Hill said he is glad the festival is put on each year.
“It’s an excellent event for the town,” Hill said. “It increases revenues, and brings a lot of visitors to Fort Gibson and introduces them to our wonderful town. It seems to be a quality event, and people who have come before always look forward to returning.”
The event is a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition, and more than $7,000 in cash and prizes will be handed out over the weekend.
There will also be other food vendors at the event, as well as commemorative T-shirts for sale.