Wharton, Hannon join BBQ festival team

Published 12:38 am Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Benton Wharton and Brook Hannon have signed on to help make the music part of the Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival the best ever, according to festival chairman Chuck Britton.
“We are so pleased to have the experience and energy of both these music industry professionals,” the chairman said. “They bring a lot of fresh, new ideas, and they’re reinvigorating the whole committee with their enthusiasm.”
Benton Wharton is leading the new effort. He holds a degree in arts and art management (with a minor in music theory) from the College of Charleston. A 2003 graduate of Polk County High School, Wharton moved to Asheville after college and started Mountain Roots Management with partner Bob Robertson. They and a small staff have been promoting and subcontracting in the event management and concert/festival business across the nation since 2007.
Mountain Roots Management is the presenting company for events such as the Asheville Music Jamboree (AMJam), Smile-
fest and the Smilefest Reunion, Asheville Earth Day and Just Because You’re Asheville.
“I grew up at the barbecue festival in Tryon, helping my father, Carl Wharton, and getting to know the community of cookers,” said Wharton. “I also gained some insight as to the relationship between the festival and the community. I am very excited to be a part of this and feel vested in helping the event grow for and with the community. This is going to be a great year – we have many wonderful surprises already shaping up.”
Wharton steps in as entertainment chairman, a position formerly held by Peter Eisenbrown, who has resigned after 16 years of service to the festival.
The new chairman is assisted by Hannon, who brings to the table many abilities as well as some firsthand experience with entertainers, having produced and recorded music for several artists ranging from country to hip-hop and having accompanied international recording artists Jay-z and Ginuwine on tour dates. Hannon, born and raised in Tryon, holds a degree in broadcast communication.
“As I was growing up here in Tryon, the festival was always a part of my life. Getting to be a part of something I’ve grown to love, to have some creative control in where the entertainment is headed, is very exciting to me,” Hannon said. “I really want to apply my knowledge and experience in the entertainment field and help take the festival to a new level.”
“The new entertainment team is planning new things, but we’re not making drastic changes,” said Britton. “If you’ve always enjoyed the music at the festival – there’ll be plenty here for you to like. We’re looking forward to making some announcements about who is going to be here in June as early as January. We’re also excited about some of the promotional ideas Brook is working on.”
The Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival includes not only the cooking competition, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, and the music (on two stages); but also a juried craft fair with more than 50 artists and crafters displaying, demonstrating and selling their art; carnival rides and games for kids of all ages; interesting and informative sponsor displays; the Rubber Ducky River Race and a classic car show. Look for upcoming announcements about other attractions that are being added to the 2011 festival.
The festival is conducted annually under the auspices of the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds from the festival help support chamber operations, and additional proceeds go to the Carolina Foothills Chamber Foundation to be returned to the community through distributions to a variety of charitable and civic programs and projects throughout the county. Funds are generated by a modest admission fee, contestant entry fees and sponsorships.
For further information, call the festival office at 828-859-RIBS (7427) or visit BlueRidge
– article submitted

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