Three new events this year at Blue Ridge BBQ festival

Published 3:07 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Musselwhite explained that traditionally some of the proceeds from the festival help support the operation of the chamber of commerce, and the rest is put into a foundation for distribution to a variety of charitable and civic organizations in the county through a grant process. That tradition will continue as always.

&dquo;However, this year,&dquo; he said, &dquo;we decided to name two non-profit organizations to partner with us in these three new special events and share the labor and the profits from them. We wanted to do this as a way of helping them with their fundraising during this time of economic uncertainty, and to enlist new festival participants.&dquo;

The committee named Big Brothers Big Sisters of Polk County and Hospice of the Carolina Foothills to be the non-profit partners. If this program is successful this year, two other non-profits will be asked to participate in the 2010 events.

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Duckies on the river

The first ever Rubber Duckie River Race on the Pacolet River has already elicited some excitement in town. Small Rubber Duckie stickers have appeared around the county and a large inflatable yellow duckie has been on display at several public events‐including the recent Steeplechase. Bill Crowell, who has spearheaded the operations efforts for the festival since its beginning, together with his wife Kathleen Carson, is helping organize this event for the festival committee. The community knows Bill and Kathleen as the couple who operate Saluda Forge and Kathleen&squo;s Simply Irresistible Gallery.

&dquo;What does the Q in BBQ stand for&dquo;? Crowell asked with a very large grin on his face. Then he answered his own question with a loud, &dquo;Quack!&uot;

&dquo;This is what the barbecue festival is all about,&dquo; Crowell said. &dquo;Having fun and doing good for the community all at the same time. And, let me say, we owe a debt of gratitude to ServiceMaster of Spartanburg/Polk Counties for their generous sponsorship of the river race. Their help with costs will ensure that more of the proceeds go to the non-profit designees.&dquo;

Since this is a first-ever event, all plans are subject to change, but Crowell and Carson explain the event this way: Small toy ducks (they are actually plastic, not rubber) are being sold at $5 per duck. The buyer gets a ticket with a number on it that corresponds to a number inscribed on a toy duck. On Friday of the festival, there will be two heats of 500 ducks each and another heat on Saturday. The winning duck in each heat will net its &dquo;owner&dquo; a $100 prize. The top 10 ducks in each heat will then be eligible for the big final race on Saturday afternoon. The prize for the winner is $1,000. Ducks may also be purchased in families of five for $20, in flocks of 12 for $50 and in flights of 25 for $100.

Duckie tickets may be purchased in Tryon at The Book Shelf, Kathleen&squo;s Simply Irresistible Gallery, and at the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce; in Columbus at Watson&squo;s Appliance and Hospice of the Carolina Foothills; and in Landrum at the Hospice Thrift Barn. They are also being sold by Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers.

A gala on the oval

&dquo;Black Tie, Blue Jeans, BBQ and Blues&dquo; is the theme for the Farm-to-Table Gala set for Thursday evening, June 11. That&squo;s the night before the festival opens, and guests will have a chance to preview the excitement as Harmon Field is transformed into the site of the North Carolina Barbecue Championship.

The evening will include a five-course meal featuring foods from local farms, slow-cooked meats prepared by championship cookers, and a full bar. In addition there will be entertainment including a tour of the competition cook area (known affectionately as Hog Heaven), a preview of the Rubber Duckie River Race, a bachelor auction and the bluesy music of Asheville&squo;s Gas House Mouse.

Carol Lynn Jackson, the festival committee&squo;s sponsorship chair (who also operates Saluda&squo;s Manna Cabana), is helping coordinate the event along with Mary Beth Trunk of Hospice and Patty Slater and Sheila Veatch of Big Brothers Big Sisters and other volunteers.

Patty Otto, who operates the Lake Lanier Teahouse and the Hare & Hound Restaurant in Landrum, will cater the Farm-to-Table feast meats prepared on the field by experienced competition cookers.

Jackson said that tickets are available at Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hospice and the chamber of commerce. &dquo;We&squo;ve sent invitations to supporters of our three organizations, and seating is limited. However, there is still room, and we would love to hear from anyone who would like to attend. A ticket application can be downloaded from our website,;

The cost for the gala is $95 per person. Guests who wish to be listed as sponsors of the gala event may reserve special seating at a table for eight for $900.

&39;Hawgs&39; on the run

The last special event, the Hawg Run to Fun, begins in Greenville at the Harley-Davidson store on Chrome Drive, just off Woodruff Road, and ends on the festival grounds at Harmon Field on Saturday, June 13.

David Cothran of Service Concrete Construction, Inc.,&bsp; is organizing this &dquo;poker&dquo; run in which cyclists make five scheduled stops along a pre-planned route and, at each stop, pick up a single playing card. When they arrive at the festival, their five-card stud poker hands will be evaluated and a cash prize will go to the best hand, while the worst hand will receive a gift basket.

Registration is from 9 a.m.‐10 a.m. at the Harley-Davidson store in Greenville. The first bikes will be out at 10 a.m. A $15 entry fee will include admission to the festival.

The Blue Ridge Barbecue & Music Festival is conducted annually under the auspices of the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce. For further information about any aspect of the festival, visit the website at or call the festival office at 828-859-RIBS (7427).