, Muskogee, OK

October 21, 2013

Chamber director expects 5,000 people

By Travis Sloat
Times staff writer

— Gary Perkins said he was very excited about the fifth annual Smokin’ the Fort BBQ and Bluegrass Festival.

“This is the biggest event of the year for Fort Gibson,” said Perkins, the Fort Gibson Chamber of Commerce executive director said.

 “Each year we’ve averaged between 3,500 and 5,000 people, and I think this year will be a year we see 5,000.”

Friday and Saturday, Fort Gibson residents will get to enjoy barbecue, live music and some friendly competition as the festival invades the downtown area.

Perkins said the event will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday night with an “Anything Goes” competition as well as a “Kids Cook Off.”

The child chefs will compete in two different age divisions for cash and prizes.

In addition to the cooking, there will be live bluegrass music and even gunfighter re-enactments on the streets of downtown.

Anxious foodies will even be able to attend the “Meet the Cooks” party as well.

“If anyone plans on entering the contests, I need their registration sheet by Friday,” Perkins said. “It will cost $20 to enter either the Kids Cook Off or the Anything Goes.”

The festival has become such a big event in recent years that Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed it Smokin’ the Fort Day, Perkins said.

Mayor Brad Clinkenbeard said his favorite part of the festival is seeing all the people gathered in Fort Gibson.

“I love seeing everyone having a good time, smelling the smoke and listening to good music,” Clinkenbeard said. “I’m busy this year and won’t have time to cook, but I plan on tasting it all.”

Clinkenbeard also said his favorite food to taste is brisket.

“We always have some excellent brisket,” he said. “But I don’t want to take anything away from the rest of it either. It’s all very good.

“We’ve tried to evolve the event over the years, and I think this will be one of our biggest years yet. However, there’s always next year.”

Saturday’s events will feature more live bluegrass music, an officially sanctioned Kansas City Barbecue Society competition and of course the tasting. Perkins said tasting kits would be available for $7.

“Those entered in the KCBS competition will be competing for over $7,000 in prizes and awards,” he said.

“We’ll also have the ‘Anything Goes’ competition on Saturday, so there will be folks out there cooking chicken and other things.”

Clinkenbeard said he was excited about the Kenny Cantrell Band, a new performer at the festival this year.

“I’m looking forward to hearing them play,” he said. “I want to thank Fort Gibson residents for allowing us to have an event like this here. Just come on and enjoy the festivities.”

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat

If you go

WHAT: Fifth annual Smokin’ the Fort BBQ and Bluegrass Festival.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Downtown Fort Gibson, corner of Lee and Poplar streets.

COST: No admission charge, but taster’s kits are $7.