Some of the area and nations best barbecuers will put their finest smoked meats up against all comers and for all tasters at the fifth annual Smoke on the Mountain competition on Friday and Saturday.
The competition is the official Virginia State Barbecue Championship, which means it attracts interest from barbecuers from across the nation, who all want the title, bragging rights and the unique trophies that come with the honor.
The Grand Champion earns a handmade banjo while runners-up earn fiddle trophies, all of which are handcrafted by Tom Barr.
They take these trophies and they go all over the United States and display them, said Twin County Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Judy Brannock. Thats very good advertisement for our region. Thats one of the biggest draws we have to this area, that our trophies are so unique.
And if the trophies bring the competitors to the Twin Counties, Brannock said the treatment they get from locals brings them back.
They love coming to this region, she said. The judges and teams say it gives Southern Hospitality a new meaning. The City of Galax and businesses open their arms to them. They have a ball here. They enjoy it.
In addition to the teams, the competition draws judges from all over as well. Brannock said judges will be visiting from Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and more. Representatives from the Memphis Barbecue Network and Food Network will also be on hand during the festivities.
Brannock said there are some teams in the competition that are also Food Network mainstays.
This year we will have the most professional teams we have ever had, Brannock said. Most of these teams are world champions and have been interviewed and seen on the Food Network channel.
Music also plays a large role in the competition, as there are jam sessions along Main Street, and Beach Music highlights the evening. Brannock said this years featured entertainers include Band of Oz and The Tams. While theres no admission to attend the competition, its $10 for each night of music for those over 12, which Brannock said is a bargain.
One of these bands gets $20 to $25 gate fees but we get them for $10, she said.
Other side attractions include a special Smoke on the Mountain wine from West Wind Winery, prints of a Smoke on the Mountain portrait by Becky Webb-Guynn at the Galax City Art Gallery, and NASCAR hats for sale sent by Kelloggs, featuring Hendrick drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Well be selling them on Main Street, Brannock said. (Kelloggs) said this is NASCAR country and they love barbecue. Theyve been kind to send them to sell. When you buy a NASCAR hat, theyre going to give you an arms length of tickets. Then you take the tickets and somebody will win a couple hundred dollars.
Several locals will be pitching in to help the competition run smoothly. Carlene Poole handles all judging chambers while Ron Passmore deals with the teams. Keith Andrews is in charge of entertainment and Sandra Hankley handles marketing.
Brenda Stamey, Ann Catron, Ann Hodges and Leesa Morris are in charge of t-shirt sales, the information center and programs, while Bill Webb will take care of concessions and Kenneth Belton will manage the beverage garden and Dr. Stacy Thomas will maintain the gate and perimeter at the concerts.
Brannock said events begin around 10 or 11 a.m. both days and usually goes to about 11 p.m. each night. She said the barbecue will be judged at around 1 p.m. on Saturday, and then comes the best part.
After the judging, people can sample barbecue, she said.