Daniel Lee, a participant in last year's barbecue festival, tends to his grill. The Henry County Chamber of Commerce is seeking barbecue lovers to compete in, and to judge, this year's Nash Bash Riffs and Ribs festival, which is scheduled for May 22.
By Valerie Baldowski
The Henry County Chamber of Commerce is searching for grilling experts to judge, and participate in, its third annual barbecue contest.
The Nash Bash Riffs and Ribs barbecue festival is scheduled for May 22 from 10 a.m., to 5 p.m., at Nash Farm Park in Hampton.
The chamber-sponsored event will feature a "backyard grillers" cook-off competition during the activities, according to Laura Luker, director of tourism and communications for the Chamber.
"Grill masters who think their cooking proves they know good barbecue, and want a chance to prove it while winning cash prizes, can sign up as a 'Backyard Griller,'" said Luker.
All entries will be scored by a panel of seven Henry County celebrity judges, she said. The list of invited judges includes several area politicians, Luker said.
There will also be one citizen who will be invited to be an eighth member of the panel of judges, said Chamber of Commerce President Kay Pippin.
The judges will taste the entries and declare the first-, second- and third-place winners for barbecue ribs, Boston butt, and chicken, said Luker. Visitors can sample the teams' best pulled pork and vote for their favorite in the People's Choice Award contest.
To earn a place at the judging table, interested individuals must submit a "Best BBQ Buds" contest application explaining why they feel they are up to the challenge.
Last year was the first time Daniel Lee, of Hampton, competed in the event. He prepared ribs and shoulders for the barbecue cook-off contest. He said the food, the music and the social aspects of the event made it a memorable experience for him. A barbecue enthusiast, Lee said he plans to participate again this year.
"I'm kind of a hot [barbecue sauce] fan," he said. "Eastern North Carolina, vinegar-based barbecue sauce is the only way to go."
Lee said he learned a lot last year and he will be one of the grillers to contend with this year.
The event is a way to promote tourism and showcase what Henry County has to offer, said Luker. "We're trying to draw more people into the county, and make them more aware of Henry County," she said.
"This is the third annual barbecue festival," said Pippin. "It started in 2008, under the leadership of then Chamber Board Chairman Charles Woodroof, and Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth 'B.J.' Mathis. These leaders, and our Convention and Visitors Bureau, wanted to grow opportunities for residents and tourists to participate in a great, all-American event at the spacious and beautiful Nash Farms."
As the name suggests, music will be an integral part of the Nash Bash Riffs and Ribs event.
"We're trying to get a variety of music," said Luker. "We're going to have four bands there."
For application information, call (770) 957-5786.