Twenty-five barbecue teams from Ohio, Indiana, Texas and Kentucky will roll into town this weekend for Smokin’ in the Hills, a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned cookoff and military appreciation set for Friday and Saturday at Rocky Fork Lake.
According to Highland County Commissioner Shane Wilkin, who has been involved in the planning process, the winner of the competition will automatically qualify for the American Royal barbecue competition in Kansas City and be put in a raffle for a chance to compete at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.
Winners will be announced and awards will be given on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Smokin’ in the Hills, which will be held at the East End Overlook at the lake, will feature a multitude of activities and vendors in addition to the cookoff, including military booths and displays, a canoe race and obstacle course challenge, and a beer garden that will surround the whole area.
Wilkin said he’s hoping for a big turnout, and expects the competition to be a yearly event.
“There are going to be changes for next year that we’re already working on,” he said. “I’m just hopeful that everyone comes out and supports it… We hope to see everyone out there enjoying some good barbecue and seeing how professional teams go about it. And hey, the weather looks great.”
Hillsboro Rotary Club member Lee Koogler said the club has arranged for the beer garden.
“The entire area is going to be roped off as the beer garden, so you’ll be able to drink and pretty much walk around the whole event,” Koogler said. “I’ll be there the whole time on behalf of Rotary. We’re hoping this turns into a great event for Highland County and I’m hoping people come out and support it.”
Koogler said beer selections will include Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Yuengling and a few other brews.
The beer garden will be open Friday from 7-9 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Registration for the Patriot Challenge, a combination of a canoe race and obstacle course, will remain open for the rest of the week, Bryson told The Times-Gazette on Monday. To sign up for the race, visit racepenguin.com/events/patriot-challenge.
The Patriot Challenge will kick off Saturday’s festivities at 7:30 a.m. Proceeds from the race will benefit a bronze statue that will travel with R+L’s Eyes of Freedom: Lima Company Memorial, a travelling military memorial that will be set up Friday at the overlook.
At 9 a.m., registration for the Butch Stroop Memorial Run motorcycle ride will begin. Kickstands go up at 11 a.m. The ride will return to the event site around 1 p.m.
According to Bryson, the R+L Carriers Hometown Showcase will be set up to show the Ohio State Buckeyes game Saturday afternoon.
Bryson also said the U.S. Marine Corps., Army and Air Force will have booths and static displays set up throughout the day on Saturday, and a number of local veterans organizations and nonprofits will also be represented.
In addition, Bryson said, the Highland County Historical Society will bring historic military displays on Saturday; the Hillsboro Junior Women’s Club’s will operate a lemon shake stand; the Hillsboro Church of Christ will sell hot dogs; the Rocky Fork Lake Community Alliance will sell pop and water; and the Highland County Sheriff’s Office will raffle off a smoker grill.
The Highland County Senior Center will also be selling barbecue on Saturday for $5 per sandwich and $7 for a full plate.
According to Bryson, R+L’s Eyes of Freedom memorial will come through uptown Hillsboro on Friday evening to be set up at the event.
Bryson said anyone with a motorcycle who wants to accompany the memorial can meet up at the Roberts Centre north of Wilmington from 5-5:30 p.m. Friday night. There is no signup required.
The memorial will depart from there at 5:30 p.m. and come down High Street in uptown Hillsboro at approximately 6:15 p.m. Bryson said the public is invited to gather in front of the Highland County Courthouse to watch the procession.
The memorial is scheduled to arrive at the overlook area around 7 p.m.
Wilkin said Bryson and Rhonda Purdin of the Highland County Senior Center have been instrumental in planning the event.
“Number one, I would like to say thank you to Rhonda Purdin,” Wilkin said, crediting Purdin for the original cookoff idea and for sharing her connections with Kansas City Barbecue Society representatives. “I would also say a huge thank you to Destiny Bryson and the visitors bureau for being the quarterback of the entire event, from the barbecue to the race to the military participation… She’s really worked her tail off.”
Bryson said she’s looking forward to the event as well.
“All the pieces are fitting together,” she said. “I think it’s great for the county, it’s great exposure for the lake and the weather forecast is supposed to be great. It’s a great way to get people together in Highland County and support our nonprofits, as well as expose them to this world of barbecue which kind of has its own following. They take it seriously.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.