Still the one: Barbecue festival in Tryon continues distinction as state championship

Published 3:48 pm Monday, April 6, 2009

The Festival is actually a competition that attracts cook teams from all across the country because of it&squo;s long history of hospitality, good and fair judging, and the beauty of the environment. According to Dale Musselwhite, Festival chairman, the teams will be competing for titles, trophies and cash prizes totaling more than $20,000. He explained also that a very special award is reserved for the highest-scoring team hailing from North Carolina. &dquo;In addition to the Governor&squo;s Trophy, what that team really wins is bragging rights,&dquo; he said. &dquo;Winning the NC State Championship is considered a major achievement in a state so rich in barbecue history.&dquo;

Harmon Field, site of the event, is transformed each year into Festival areas such as &dquo;Hog Heaven,&dquo; where the barbecue cookers vie for fame and prizes; &dquo;Kiddie Land&dquo; with rides for kids of all ages and carnival games; &dquo;The Foothills Craft Fair,&dquo; rows of booths where 50 excellent artisans exhibit and sell their handiwork and often even demonstrate their skills; the &dquo;Main Stage&dquo; area and the &dquo;Riverside Stage&dquo; area, where music by a broad variety of entertainers starts early and ends late each day; and, last but not least, the &dquo;Oval&dquo;‐where incredibly delicious food is sold and savored. Guests also enjoy sponsor booths, Beach Bingo, and a spectacular fireworks display at the conclusion of each Festival evening.

The 2009 event may also be the year that the &dquo;Going Green&dquo; initiative and challenge will finally be met. A goal was set in 2006 to reduce the Festival&squo;s environmental footprint by 75 percent. The rather ambitious initial plan was to achieve this goal in only three years. Environmentally thoughtful and efficient measures were taken to reduce the amount of waste generated and to salvage compost-appropriate materials and recyclables in order to reduce the amount of landfill waste. Volunteer environmental educators Katie Breckheimer and Betsy Burdette organized the effort and issued the challenge, which came very close to full success in the third year, 2008. &dquo;We didn&squo;t have far to go,&dquo; said Breckheimer. &dquo;We had already achieved reduction of well over 50 percent, but we fell about 10% short of the total goal in the third year. That just makes us all the more determined to do it in 2009. We are right on track to prove to ourselves and to other festivals and events that this can be done,&dquo; she added.

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Tickets are sold per person at the gate, and there is no charge for children 12 and under accompanied by an adult. There is a two-for-one discount for seniors on Friday until 5 pm, and special rates are available for groups of 20 or more either day.&bsp; Kids enjoy unlimited rides on Friday until 5 pm for a fee. Go to for a coupon for Friday&squo;s admission.

As always the Festival committee needs hundreds of volunteers and has begun its annual recruiting push. Apply online at our website,, or call the Festival office at 828-859-RIBS (7427).

The Blue Ridge Barbecue & Music Festival is conducted annually under the auspices of the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds from the Festival help support Chamber operations, and all additional proceeds go to the Carolina Foothills Chamber Foundation to be returned to the community through distributions to a variety of charitible and civic programs and projects throughout the county. Funds are generated by a modest admission fee, contestant entry fees and sponsorships. This year two area non-profits organizations have been selected to benefit from some new events associated with the Festival. The organizations are the Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Hospice of the Carolina Foothills. These organizations and their supporters will work with the Festival committee members and volunteers to produce and promote a 5K Run on Saturday, June 6; a Farm to Table Gala on June 11, Rubber Duckie River Races on both Festival Days, and a Hog Run (Poker Run) that originates in Greenville and terminates at the Festival on Saturday, June 13. For further information, call the Festival office at 828-859-RIBS (7427).