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BBQ Tour Stop #10 – Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival

June 18, 2009
Chris and I headed for the Blue Ridge BBQ and Music Festival in Tryon, NC with a little anxiety. This was the first time we returned to a festival from last year. While it is nice to visit new places, returning to a festival reminds me of my favorite worn and slightly tattered BBQ shirt because it always feels just “right.”

When we pulled into Tryon on Thursday, it was great to know exactly where to go and to see familiar faces. Pulling onto the field, we were met by Jim Tabb, the founder of the festival. We had a quick chat about the weather, crowd potential and how happy we were to be in Tryon.

We were invited to the cook’s dinner that evening and feasted on something other than BBQ, which was a nice change of pace. We also connected with Eloise, who was in charge of the judges’ goodie bags. She was tickled with all the sponsor products that we brought along to share. She’s a “hugger” which is just like our BBQ family.

We also met Kate and Jen with the Queensboro Shirt Company, the Official Shirt Company of the KCBS. We took them around to meet the teams. It was neat to see the excitement in their eyes at their inaugural BBQ event. The teams loved the added benefit of the Queensboro discount for KCBS members too.

We brought the rain along again, which was a good in NC because they were lacking the wet stuff. Thankfully, it came as a quick afternoon shower each day. The brief showers cooled the grounds and made for beautiful evenings.

At our Grill Master competition, it started raining but our cooks were troopers. Alvin and Larry kept cooking while the crowd retreated under tents. Another familiar face showed up at the trailer on Saturday, Elizabeth, who we met last year with her friend Dana. She still can’t believe that TABASCO® has been around for 141 years. We told her about the entire history of TABASCO® that we learned on our Avery Island tour this year. She agreed to judge the Grill Master competition with Josh, our Certified Barbeque Judge.

Saturday brought bigger crowds than Friday and we kept our helpers busy passing out samples and tour booklets. After the awards ceremony with custom made trophies, Chris and I packed up the trailer.

We then took a walk out to the team grounds to finish passing out bags of Kingsford Competition Briquets. We visited with the Swamp Boys and Bub-Ba-Q. It was great to spend time with friends and some cold refreshments talking about family, life and BBQ (not exactly in that order of course). Kingsford was a hit for the teams and Chris was almost talked out of her Kingsford visor by a jealous BBQ fan.

On the way off the grounds, we had to stop for some fresh peach cobbler and a rack of ribs from Governor’s BBQ, who took second place in the rib category. Speaking of the contest, Bill Anderson of Chatham Artillery BBQ team won Grand Champion. Tuffy, with Cool Smoke, took home Reserve Grand honors after last year’s Grand Championship win. Bill Anderson, Chatham Artillery, has a “how to” manual on competition BBQ. He has been putting his BBQ where his mouth is and doing quite well!

Saturday night ended with fireworks in the Blue Ridge Mountains and an outstanding crowd to close out one of the premier BBQ festivals in the country. This one is well worth attending if you are even close.

Mike (& Chris) Peters
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