The Big BBQ Bash is about more than cooking barbecue, co-chair for logistics Chris Flynn said.
“It’s about the most fun you can have as far as an event that brings people together,” Flynn said.
Flynn said every year there are people he would never have met had it not been for the Bash. “It brings such a diverse group of people together who might not normally get the chance to have that socialization,” he said. “There is lots of fellowshipping that goes on between teams. That is fun to watch.”
As co-chair for logistics, Flynn and his wife, Leah, have to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. As year three gets ready to debut, Flynn has some experience under his belt, but each year offers some new challenges.
One new aspect guests will see is how the Bash layout is tweaked a little this year. The Bash is adjacent to the Alcoa Municipal Building and takes up the grassy area and the parking lot.
“There’s a new layout this year with more space on the asphalt. The vendors will be on either side of the stage instead of behind it,” he said. “Essentially, we’re pushing it back to the island median and putting vendors on the sidewalk of the municipal building and on the grassy area across from the building.”
Also new this year is some planned entertainment for Friday night as the teams start their cooking process. “We will have bands for Friday night, which we have not done before, and we’ll have alcohol sales,” he said. “Foothills Bank and Trust staff have volunteered to help man the beer tent.”
There are 32 teams in this year’s Bash, which is same number of teams as 2008. There are several teams who returned and many who are new to the Bash, Flynn said.
Flynn said there will be plenty of parking for the event.
“You can park at any of the businesses in the park with the exception of restaurants and hotels and the front parking lot of the Blount Memorial Wellness Center facing Hall Road,” he said. The Bash uses the grassy lot behind the Wellness Center for parking, and there are parking spaces are available at the now-closed Look Rock Cafe. “That’s additional parking that wasn’t available last year,” he said. “With all those businesses, you’ve got somewhere in neighborhood of 600 to 1,000 spaces.”
Flynn said volunteers from civic organizations like Leadership Blount, the Civitan Club, the Rotary Club and employees from Helen Ross McNabb and New Hope Children Advocacy are helping with parking and other volunteer duties. “Folks involved with Relay for Life also are coming to help us out,” he said.
Categories for the competition include chicken, pork, ribs and “Anything but” - a category in which the entrée must be anything but pork, chicken or ribs and cooked on a grill on premises. In addition, there will be a Grand Champion awarded this year.
“The issue was what we could do for teams that do well on all categories but they didn’t pull a No. 1 trophy. This is a way to recognize the team who is best overall in all the categories combined,” Flynn said.
Charities benefiting directly from the overall proceeds of the event are Helen Ross McNabb and New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center for the organizations efforts to move to the Children’s Community Campus now being developed adjacent to the Blount County Children’s Home on McCammon Avenue in Maryville. In addition, the teams all have charities that will share their winnings if they place in the competition.
There are plenty of vendors on hand to take care of hungry or thirsty guests this year, with treats such as funnel cakes, coffee, roasted nuts, ice cream, roasted corn, milkshakes and fresh squeezed lemonade, to name just a few. Alcoa High Booster Club are selling the soft drinks this year and the beer provided by Miller Light.
In addition to food, there are some vendors providing information, showing-off tractors and new mowers, doing face painting for the kids. SlimFest organizers will be on hand selling raffle tickets to win $10,000 tax-free during the August 1 event in New Midland Plaza to benefit the Bud Allison Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and New Hope Children Advocacy Center. Personal Computer Systems will be auctioning off a new computer before the barbecue winners are announced at 4:45 p.m.
The event schedule is as follows:
Friday, May 8
8 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Cooks/corporate sponsor and vendor check-in, booth/tent set-up, supervised cooking may begin
6 p.m. - Cooking School begins for VIPs/Corporate Sponsors featuring Big Bob Gibson’s Chris Lilly, 10-time world-class BBQ champion and professional barbecue chef
7:30 p.m. - Lonesome Coyotes on stage
Saturday, May 9
9:45 a.m. - Judges report for judging school - Judges will be notified in advance for location
10:30 a.m. - Chicken Judging
11 a.m. - Ribs Judging
11:30 a.m. - Pulled Pork Judging
Noon - Anything But... Judging
4:45 p.m. - Winners announced.
1:30 p.m. - Slow Joe Crow on stage
3:30 p.m. - Soulfinger on stage
5 p.m. - The Retroholics on stage
7 p.m. - Neon Bloom on stage
8:30 pm - The Quorum on stage
10 p.m. - Event concludes