( 2 Votes )

Fluvanna resident John Atkins helped bring the BBQ  competition to the county.After months of planning, music, BBQ and party lovers will gather from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Pleasant Grove on Saturday (June 23)  for the Fluvanna Chamber of Commerce’s first-ever BBQ, Bands and Brews festival.

John Atkins, owner of The BBQ Connection, joined the Chamber this past year because he said he believes in supporting the community.

Atkins thought the perfect marriage would be his love of BBQ and a festival that would bring people to one of Fluvanna’s most prized parks.

Atkins, a Pit Master, wanted it to be a bona fide competition, so he suggested making it an officially sanctioned Kansas City Barbeque Society event.

Professional BBQ teams from all over Virginia and beyond will compete in the categories of pork, ribs, chicken and brisket.

The Society takes their competitions seriously, requiring judges be trained and certified in the ins and outs of barbeque. That training took place earlier this year.

Two locals from the group of more than 30 paying for the privilege of learning how to judge were chosen to judge Saturday’s event at Pleasant Grove: Dennis Holder and Don Stribling.

Both said they are thrilled to be judging their first competition at home.

“I was delighted, of course (when I heard I was chosen),” Holder said. “I know a couple of veteran judges in Fluvanna County and their enthusiasm has proved contagious. I can hardly wait for my first experience at a judges’ table.”

Stribling said he decided to pay $90 to take the KCBS course at a friend’s suggestion.

“A friend introduced me to the thought of becoming a judge because he knew my love of good food, appetite, and live music,” Stribling said. “It is a win, win, win, situation.”

Joining Stribling and Holder in the judge’s booth will be Reid Bechtle, a veteran judge.

Bechtle has judged more than 50 competitions.

“I dedicate a lot of time each year in determining what contests I want to judge and try to get to know the organizers, especially for new contests like BBQ, Bands and Brew,” Bechtle said. “I always try to provide the judge’s perspective to contest organizers so they can run a successful competition and have judges willing to return year after year. Judges dedicate a lot of time and money to attend contests and you want the good ones to return as it improves the quality of the judging - something of critical importance to the competitors.”

How does one prepare to judge a barbeque competition?

Both Stribling and Holder are studying the Society’s rule book.

In addition, Holder said he is keeping an open mind.

“As I understand it, our job as judges will largely be to evaluate the cook’s success in achieving what he or she set out to do,” Holder said. “The final result should be beautiful, tender, properly cooked and delicious, but those are fairly subjective qualities. I’m betting that we judges will have to measure nuances that separate lots of entries that rise well above the standards.”

Bechtle, who will be traveling to Fluvanna, said the first thing he does is make sure he isn’t late.

“I plan my trip to be sure I will be on time,” Bechtle said. “(I also) go hungry, have a clean palate and most of all pace myself as I taste and judge. Some of the BBQ is so darn good you have to remind yourself you are judging and not out for dinner!”

At the March 17 course, Atkins provided the BBQ for the judges-in-training to gnaw on.

Atkins decided not to compete in the Pleasant Grove event, but to sell his BBQ to the crowd. The Socity has strict rules, and one of them is those competing cannot sell their product at the event unless they have separate smokers – one for competition and one for sales.

More than 25 teams will be competing for their share in the $10,000 prize.

As for the beer, five microbreweries will have booths at the festival: Imports, Beach Brewing, St. George Brewing, Blue Mountain Brewery and Blue Mountain Barrel House.

Providing the music at the event are two bands: Cedar Creek and The Rhondels.

Cedar Creek is a Country Music Association band that plays Top 40 country and classic rock that has been voted a top country band in Maryland and Virginia for years. Cedar Creek will play from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Rhondels hail from Virginia Beach and have been playing since the early 80s. They’ll take the stage from 3 to 6 p.m.

Vendors purveying goods of all kinds will be set up for the crowd to enjoy while they eat, drink and listen to music.

Cindy Pollard, of Transformations, will be selling face and body painting, glitter tattoos and a small selection of henna designs. Pollard, a local fixture at many events, has been painting for eight years, turning professional three years ago.

She got started innocently enough. Pollard said she was at her church fun day when someone handed her a brush and pallet and told her to paint cheek art. When the first child she painted, beamed at the results, Pollard said she was hooked.

“The product I use for face and body painting is heavily pigmented, hypo allergenic make up -no acrylic paints, as they contain ingredients that should never go on the skin,” Pollard said. “The henna is mixed with essential oils that make it smell wonderful. When a person comes to my booth and sits in my chair to be painted, they have a personal experience. I want them to feel that they are the only one around at that time and that what they are getting is special, because it is.”

For a peek at Pollard’s work, visit her website at www.trans4m8ions.com.

Another local artist to look for is jewelry maker Theresa Landow, owner of The Beaded Branch.

“What began as a simple bead- making hobby in college quickly developed into a full-blown crafting business,” said Pollard, celebrating her 10th year in business. “The beads were quickly turned into jewelry, and when there was simply too much jewelry to wear on my own, I began to sell it.”

The Beaded Branch offers other products such as hand-dyed silk scarves and hand-poured resin buttons.

“Time and dedication, along with great personal care go into the creation of each piece,” she said. “Our handmade cards give a personal touch to your notes, and our bug bags are perfect for the mom on the go who doesn’t want to juggle all the essentials.”

To see some of Landow’s offerings, go to her website www.thebeadedbranch.com.

BBQ, Bands and Brews is shaping up to be a fun-filled event. And for admission fees of $8 per adult and $5 per child, what better, or possibly cheaper way is there to spend a Saturday with the family?

For more information go to www.bbqbandsandbrews.com.