By Travis Sloat
Times staff writer
Lynn Kutz said the fifth annual Smokin’ the Fort BBQ and Bluegrass Festival was good for Fort Gibson.
“I think it brings a lot of tourism to the town,” Kutz said. “Last year we saw two people who had driven in from Morris, so people come a long way to be here for this. I feel like most of the events in Fort Gibson have this level of support, and we look forward to it every year.”
Approximately 5,000 people visited Fort Gibson during the two-day festival. Included in that number were the 14 Taster’s Choice cooks and the 25 Kansas City Barbecue Society cooks who competed for top honors in the nationally sanctioned contest.
Mayor Brad Clinkenbeard said the festival was a “major success.”
“I just want to thank the citizens of Fort Gibson for letting us do this,” Clinkenbeard said. “We had to block off some streets for a while, and we appreciate the patience with us. Even though the weather was threatening at some points, I want to thank everyone for coming out and making the event a success.”
Clinkenbeard also said Smokin’ the Fort sets the tone for the events in the coming year.
“In putting on the event, we bring awareness to our ability as Fort Gibson to bring a crowd together,” he said. “It also gets everyone in town on the same page of supporting our events, be it a Chamber function or a city function. It gets everyone in a spirit of camaraderie and working together.”
Kutz said she would like to see more of the same happen in the town.
“I’d definitely like to see more events like this in Fort Gibson,” she said. “I think it’s a great social gathering, and they always manage to get good bands for the events. We live close enough that we are able to just walk down here when something is going on.”
As Fort Gibson moves out of the success of the festival, the town is looking forward to its annual Christmas Parade, which Clinkenbeard said is picking up steam.
“The Christmas ornament is being manufactured, and we’re working on getting the theme out to people so they can start their floats,” he said.
Chris Kutz, a local Fort Gibson festival attendee, said the success of the town’s events has a lot to do with the people who live there.
“It’s a close-knit town,” Kutz said. “It’s a small town that feels big. It’s a town where you don’t have to lock your doors and your vehicles at night, and I think that’s a big part of the success of festivals like this.”
Clinkenbeard said seeing the town come together for any event is “exciting.”
“When you see people you haven’t seen in six or eight months due to busy schedules, that’s exciting,” Clinkenbeard said. “And I was out at the festival all day, and I ate so much barbecue I probably won’t be able to eat anymore until the next one.”
Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat@