Barbecue bragging

Leadership Class gets cooking with legacy project

By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

Some Leadership Blount Legacy Projects look good on paper. The Class of 2007 is hoping theirs tastes good.

As their legacy project, the class of ‘07 is working with the City of Alcoa to organize The Big Barbecue Bash, a community party with built-in bragging rights for participants. They hope the barbecue competition for amateurs only will become an annual event.

The class of 35 has a challenge for self-appointed backyard barbecue gurus everywhere - Put up or shut up!
"It’s about bragging rights," class member David Dwyer said.

Many details are still in the formative stages, but four class members met recently to unveil the event to the public. Dwyer, Randy Massey, David Hodges and Chris Flynn said the event will be in mid-June in Alcoa and is designed not for the competitive teams who travel the country in search of sanctioned barbecue cook-offs, but for the "King of the Hill" neighborhood barbecue teams.

"We going after the tailgater who thinks he makes the best barbecue," Massey said. "You don’t have to have a $10,000 grill. If you’ve got something to throw charcoal in, come on."

Massey said the event will allow amateurs to field teams in either the neighborhood or corporate divisions. Each division will compete in barbecuing chicken, pulled pork and pork ribs. Costs to enter will be kept low and the teams will only have to cook enough chicken, ribs or pork for the judges.

Massey said the winner in each competition will choose which Blount County charity receives their cash prizes. Prize amounts will soon be determined for first, second and third place winners in each category of food for each division. The prize amounts will be determined based on how many teams sign up, Massey said. "At the end of the day, it all gets given away to charity, either in the prizes or to charities chosen by our allocations committee."

Massey said lack of ability to pay the entry fee -- which will range in the $150 to $200 amount for neighborhood teams -- shouldn’t prohibit someone with a good recipe from competing. The Big Barbecue Bash committee will pair neighborhood teams that need assistance with corporate sponsors who want to help but don’t want to barbecue. The teams get to compete, and the corporate sponsors get to name the charity the team is competing on behalf of, Massey said.

The tentative location is in the open fields of the Springbrook Corporate Center near the Alcoa Municipal Building. The event is planned for June 15 and 16, with cooking beginning on that Friday and the festivities kicking off on Saturday.

It could be an all night affair for some. "With Boston Butt, you have to cook it 12 to 14 hours. If you get to the next round, you’ll be up all night cooking," Massey said.

Other events are planned to make the Bash a true community party, Massey said. Champion barbecue specialist Chris Lilly, a seven-time world champion, will put on a clinic as one of the activities of the two-day event.

There will be children’s events and games, entertainment and vendors selling food and drinks. Details are still in the works, but the class is hoping to pair the Bash with a resurrected event, the Mayoral Regatta. In the past, the Regatta has been a canoe race between Maryville and Alcoa city officials and other dignitaries.

"About two to three years ago, they had the Mayoral Regatta," Dwyer explained. "They would race behind Atlanta Bread Company (as part of this event)," Dwyer said.

Massey said they hoped to organize the regatta for the Friday, June 15, night of the event.

The planners are going to sell spaces on the Bash site to teams and vendors. Purchasing space makes the team eligible to compete in the event, and teams can purchase as many "spots" as they need.

Some corporate teams may want several spaces so they can invite their employees to come, sit with the team, cook and enjoy the day. "I’d like to see 40 to 50 neighborhood teams," Massey said. "The best thing that could happen is we would run out of space."

Judging will be done in a preliminary round and a finals round, Massey said. Teams must cook enough for each round if they advance, which would be a minimum of two slabs of ribs if they’re entering that competition, and can cook as much as they want after that. If teams want to sell their barbecue or barbecue from an established restaurant or caterer, they get the keep everything they make.

The Leadership Blount Class of 2007 has chosen Blount County Advocacy Center as their charity.

Massey said they were unsure if there would be an admission charge for the event. Those details and others were to be released closer to the time of the event.

Set up will be at noon, Friday, June 15. In the afternoon of June 16, there will be children’s entertainment and Mayberry-type activities like sack races. The musical entertainment will be from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on June 16, Dwyer said.
"We’re thinking about having six bands. We’ll have a flatbed trailer for them to play on," he said.

Initial sponsors for the event include Massey Electric, Cherokee Metalworks, Alcoa, Inc., and Blount Today.

Bryan Daniels, executive vice president with the Blount County Economic Development Board, said when he found out about the proposal, he thought it was a wonderful idea.

"There’s been a lot of success in Blount County with barbecue contests," said Daniels. "Look at the history of it in Townsend. It’s nice to see it being brought to town and closer to Maryville."

Daniels said events like the barbecue competition showcase the quality of life in Blount County and what makes the area a special place to live and work.

"You see the community come together and try to put on a community event like this, and it makes it easy to sell the community to individuals and companies that can see this closeness," he said.

Cathy Cate, executive director of Leadership Blount, said each class is asked to develop some sort of lasting legacy on Blount County. "It has ranged from a Shakespearean garden at the library to helping get Trinity Dental Clinic started last year with fund raising," Cate said. "It’s that lasting impression for each class to leave their mark on the community."

"We hope the Barbecue Bash becomes Alcoa’s signature event," Massey said. "It has the potential."

To sign up a team or be a corporate sponsor, call 865-583-8182.

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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