In an effort to make it more family-friendly, organizers of the second annual Smokin’ in the Hills BBQ Cookoff are adding several kids activities to this year’s event.
The cookoff, officially listed on the Kansas City Barbecue Society competition circuit, will be held Friday, Sept. 21 and Saturday, Sept. 22 at the East Shore area at Rocky Fork State Park.
“We want to get the word out that the BBQ is not just for adults, it’s for kids, too,” said Destiny Bryson, a cookoff committee member and Visitors Bureau of Highland County executive director.
Two of the new events are the Smokin’ in the Hills Queen Scholarship Pageant and the SSCC Kids BBQ. But there will also be a free KFC Kids Zone on Saturday where kids can enjoy face painting, caricature drawings, and inflatables including a 24-foot slide called Vertical Rush, where two contestants race up a rock wall and then back down the slide. Kids can also engage in “pig racing.”
“Now, this kind of pig racing does not have an actual pig. There is an inflatable fun track that gives kids the feeling of racing on a big stage. Each contestant enters the track through the starting gate and bounces their way down the track to the finish line,” Bryson said. “The four-lane track adds a competitive feel to the popular hopper balls where kids can have some fun and challenge one another.”
The queen pageant will be held Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Highland County Senior Citizens Center in Hillsboro. There is a $30 entry fee, and the winner will receive a $100 education scholarship. There also be three runners-up. The winner will be required to travel to other festivals and parades to promote Smokin’ in the Hills.
The contest is open to students in grades 9-12 who live in Highland, Adams, Brown, Clinton, Fayette and Ross counties. Contestants will arrive at the center at 4 p.m. on day of the pageant and interviews with an anonymous panel of judges will begin at 4:30 p.m. There will be a question-and-answer period beginning at 6 p.m. that will be open to the public. Admission is $2 with those 12 and under admitted free.
All proceeds will benefit the senior center.
Rhonda Purdin, director of foods and banquets at the center, originally came up with the idea for the cookoff. She also came up with the idea for pageant because she enjoyed participating in similar ones when she was growing up.
“She thought it would be a good way to get young people involved with Smokin’ in the Hills and involved with the senior center, too,” said Mechell Frost, executive director of the center.
The SSCC Kids BBQ will be held at the cookoff on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 3:30 p.m. It is open to kids 7-15 who will cook hamburgers. There will be a panel of judges, a first place prize of $75 and a second place prize of $50. There is a $25 entry fee, but the first 25 kids to register will receive a grill and cooler combination. Proceeds benefit the senior center.
Registration forms for both events can be found at smokininthehills.com. For more information call the senior center at 937-393-4745.
There will be several other activities at this year’s Smokin’ in the Hills for those of all ages. Some of them include:
* R+L Carriers, the signature sponsor of the event, has announced it will bring two R+L Haulers and four NASCAR race cars. Bryson said eventgoers will be able to not only see, feel and touch the race cars, but periodically throughout the day, R+L Carriers’ staff will start up the motors.
* Also at the cookoff Saturday will be Tim Montgomery of the Wildlife Conservation Foundation for Ohio and its archery trailer. He will be joined by local world archer Fawn Girard. They will demonstrate the sport of archery and kids and adults will have a chance to try the sport.
* Devin Ames of Karda Defense will join the exhibitors and have information available for concealed carry classes and gun safety.
* The Highlands Nature Sanctuary will be set up providing information on its hiking trails. It is expected to have kids activities geared toward enjoying nature.
* The Highland County Historical Society and the Highland County Airport have plans to engage the public in the variety of events each of them hosts on an annual basis.
* Water’s Edge from Chillicothe will be set up on the water for kayak and canoe rentals throughout the day. Pricing will be available on the Smokin’ in the Hills event page and website in coming days.
* Rockin’ Ron will be the deejay for the day and is bringing the tunes, hula hoops, a bubble machine and more.
“Adults, we have not left you out of the fun either,” Bryson said. “Friday night the Blue Steel Band will perform from 7-9 p.m. The beer garden and food vending will be open as well as a chance to taste smoked pork nachos prepared by 13 different participating BBQ teams. Samples will be $1 each, and each ticket also allows you one vote for your favorite team.”
Organizers said more activities are being planned and encouraged those interested to visit Facebook @SmokinInTheHills, where updates and other news is posted weekly.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.