MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

October 20, 2010

Smokin’ the Fort festival hits town Oct. 29-30

Brad Clinkenbeard and other members of the Fort Gibson Chamber of Commerce are looking forward to another weekend of “smokin’ the fort” and “racin’ the streets”.

This year’s festival will be marked not only by Barbecue and Bluegrass, but will include a contest to determine the fastest toilet in the West. But the toilets must be strictly man-powered.

“We won’t allow motorized toilets,” Clinkenbeard said. “They can be flushable, but they can’t be motorized.”

Gary Perkins fleshed out the rules.

“The toilet has to have four wheels, and has to have two people involved,” he said. “One can sit, one can push or pull. So far at least six teams are in the process of building theirs.

“Our biggest concern is how to get them stopped once we get them started.”

The toilet race is just one highlight of this year’s 2nd annual Smokin’  the Fort BBQ Cook-off and Bluegrass Festival, set for Oct. 29 and 30.

The fun begins Friday night (Oct. 29) with a cooks’ party, street dance, and a concert by Nashville recording artist Lainey Edwards.

The festival takes place at the intersection of Poplar and Lee Streets in downtown Fort Gibson.

Saturday’s program (Oct. 30) includes the toilet race at noon, a pie eating contest at 10:30 a.m., and a costume contest.

Three Bluegrass bands will provide music from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The main feature of the weekend is the chow.

By paying $5 for a “taster’s ticket,” Clinkenbeard said festival-goers can sample all the Barbecue they can eat in the “People’s Choice” division, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Thirty-five to 40 local cooks are expected to compete for a $200 cash prize.

“Four unannounced roving judges will decide the People’s Choice winner,” Clinkenbeard said.

Booth space in the People’s Choice contest is available from the chamber for a $25 fee.

 The Smokin’ the Fort festival also hosts a second contest, one sanctioned and certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.

“I had no idea how big it is, but it’s huge,” Perkins said.

Clinkenbeard said KCBS draws serious competitors who take part in a contest somewhere about every weekend.

“I would call KCBS professional,” he said.

A team from Norway will compete in Fort Gibson this year. Last year’s event drew 15 or 16 professional competitors.

The Barbecue prepared for the KCBS competition is consumed only by the judges for that event. A $5,000 pay-out will be awarded to the top eight or 10 competitors, Clinkenbeard said.

Organizers are raffling a Jamie Geer backyard smoker. Raffle tickets are available for $5 at the Chamber of Commerce office, and from chamber members.

Clinkenbeard said the festival is a family-oriented event, so that no alcohol will be available.

The event is a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce.

Clinkenbeard said last year’s festival drew 2,000 people over two days.

Governor Brad Henry has declared Oct. 30 Official Smokin’ the Fort Day.

“We got a beautiful big certificate with his signature,” Perkins said.

For information about the festival, call the Chamber of Commerce at 478-4780.

For information about the Kansas City Barbecue Society, see www.kcbs.us.

Reach Kirk Kramer at 684-2901 or kkramer@ muskogeephoenix.com

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