Waffle House cooks for BBQ cookers

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2011

From left: Karl Kropp, Waffle House operations manager, Peggy Wylie, BBQ Festival volunteer, and Chuck Britton, BBQ Festival chairman. (photo submitted)

It’s on the house. Waffle House. There will be more than the smell of barbecue slowing cooking in “Hog Heaven” during this year’s 18th Annual Blue Ridge Barbecue & Music Festival. There will also be the smell of waffles, thanks to Waffle House in Columbus. At 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, while contestants from all over the country are still snoring in their RVs and sleeping bags, Waffle House Operations Manager Karl Kropp and his team will descend on Hog Heaven and start cooking up breakfast for 300.

This is the first time a local business has volunteered to donate virtually all the food for the cookers’ Saturday morning breakfast. Kropp and his wife, Teresa, have lived in Columbus for 18 years and have five children, aged 10 to 17.

Karl said, “It’s all about community – giving back to the community.”

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Festival Chairman Chuck Britton said he is excited about a new spirit of local involvement he sees with this year’s festival, with Waffle House a perfect example.

He said, “This is great. It’s about a local business stepping up and being a part of this event.”

When they wake up Saturday morning, cookers will be treated to eggs, gravy, biscuits, hash browns, grits, coffee, tea, orange juice and, of course, waffles.

Behind the Waffle House team will be Peggy Wyllie and her 16 volunteers, ready to serve breakfast to the 300 cook team members. Wyllie has been heading up the breakfast volunteers since the festival started 18 years ago. It’s a labor of love (and biscuits) and it’s the reason the Blue Ridge barbecue competition is the favorite among cookers from all over the country: the volunteers who make this, year after year, a great event for the cookers. It’s the volunteers who make it happen. Waffle House’s teaming with Peggy and her volunteers is sure to mark a new standard for Hog Heaven.

The Blue Ridge Barbecue & Music Festival will be held at Harmon Field in Tryon on June 10 and 11. The event includes not only a cooking competition – sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society – and 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; sponsor displays and, of course, the food.

Saturday’s special events include the third annual Rubber Ducky River Race; a Classic Car Show, and “Hawg” Runs (motorcycle poker runs) originating in Greenville and Asheville and ending at the festival. Look for upcoming announcements about other attractions that are being added to the 2011 event.

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 BlueRidgeBBQFestival.com.