Coming back for a bigger and better return engagement at Rocky Fork State Park is the second annual Smokin’ in the Hills BBQ Cookoff, event organizers announced Thursday, with an expanded lineup including live entertainment, more vendors, a queen contest and kids events.
The cookoff, officially listed on the Kansas City Barbecue Society competition circuit, will be Friday, Sept. 21 and Saturday, Sept. 22 at the East Shore area at Rocky Fork Lake.
“Following the inaugural event, we surveyed our sponsors, volunteers, teams, judges, exhibitors and the general public as to their thoughts on how we can improve our event for year two,” Destiny Bryson, a cookoff committee member and executive director of the Visitors Bureau of Highland County, said in a prepared statement. “An overwhelming majority of survey respondents would like to see live entertainment, more food vendors and childrens’ activities. Keeping these results in mind, our committee has explored a variety of options and believe we have a great strategy for pulling off an even better event for 2018.”
The signature sponsor for the cookoff is once again R+L Carriers.
“We are very proud to be a part of this local event and look forward to its success in creating a significant economic impact for the Rocky Fork Lake region,” Greg Bronner, R+L Carriers vice president of marketing, said in a news release.
The week before the cookoff there will be a queen’s pageant at the Highland County Senior Citizens Center in Hillsboro. Details are still being arranged, but there will be scholarship money for the winner, and the queen and three runners-up will preside over cookoff festivities. The pageant is open to Highland County residents and the surrounding area, and the queen will be required to travel to other events to promote Smokin’ in the Hills.
There will be live entertainment both nights, with popular local act Blue Steel featured Friday. The Saturday night act has yet to be determined.
There will be a “Kids Cue,” or barbecue events for kids ages 7-17, on Saturday, a “name-the-pig” contest, and other games and contests.
Rhonda Purdin, the local resident who came up with the idea for the cookoff after watching a similar event on TV, said 16 teams have signed up for the event so far, including teams from West Virginia, Texas, Indiana and all over Ohio.
Due to a schedule conflict, there will not be a large presence of military groups and displays like there was a year ago. In their place will be exhibits featuring tourism in Highland County.
“We will be seeking businesses that support the tourism industry and offer activities and attractions in and around the Rocky Fork region,” Bryson’s statement said. “(And) vendors that offer outdoor equipment, gear, apparel and accessories… We believe that the date of our event is perfect timing for this industry to offer clearance sales on summer items while also showcasing new models for fall and winter items. We also believe this type of show will offer a unique local experience and help promote our local businesses.”
There are plans to offer games to attract thrill seekers of all ages, Bryson said.
Beer sales will return to the event and will be organized by the Hillsboro Rotary Club.
New to the cookoff will be a Friday night People’s Choice Contest.
“The teams competing in the cookoff will have an opportunity to win additional prize money by entering the People’s Choice Contest,” Bryson said. “The teams will be asked to create their version of pork nachos. Eventgoers will purchase tickets. Each ticket will be good for one sample and one vote. We believe that the additional food vending and People’s Choice Contest will offer satisfaction to eventgoers coming for samples of award-winning barbecue.”
Shane Wilkin, the former Highland County commissioner and recently appointed state representative, remains the coordinator for the event.
Bryson said more details on the event and some of the special activities will announced as they are finalized.
Interested vendors and queen’s pageant entrants should contact Purdin or Michelle Frost at the senior center at 937-393-4745.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]