By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
Get ready for some serious weekend grilling!
The Grills Gone Wild Barbecue Festival, organized by the Inferno Group of Harrogate, Tenn., is finally here and will begin its festivities Friday. The event will take place at the Laurel-London Optimist Club on KY 80 west of London.
The registration and setup for both professional and amateur competitors is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and the event opens to the public at 5 p.m. The public is cautioned that professional barbecuers will not be offering samples of their potentially award-winning barbecue, but there will be vendors available Saturday with food for hungry guests.
The real fun for guests begins Saturday; vendors for the public offering different types of foods and items will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Noon will bring the music of Jade Robertson and Blake Branscom, and after the entertainment comes an eating contest sponsored by Little Caesars. The event will also feature a car show and a cornhole tournament. Big Adventure Inflatables will be at the festival with plenty of activities for kids.
There is no cost of admission for the festival.
The professional competition division is now one of seven contests in the Jim Beam BBQ Classic Showdown. For a professional team to make it there, they must compete in at least three of the seven events.The Jim Beam BBQ Classic will take place in Springfield on Oct. 3-4.
According to London-Laurel County Tourism Co-Director Rodney Hendrickson, around 30-35 professionals are to compete and around 5,000 attendees are expected.
“It’s a pretty big deal when you can get a competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society,” Hendrickson said. He went on to say Kentucky’s governor declared Grills Gone Wild a Kentucky state championship barbecue.
“The London-Laurel County Tourism Commission is thrilled to be hosting the inaugural Grills Gone Wild tournament in London,” Hendrickson said. “We look forward to it becoming an annual festival.”
The festival is also open to amateur barbecue enthusiasts with their backyard division. This is sponsored by Jackson Propane Plus of London. Those who believe they have excellent barbecue could potentially win some money; more than $1,500 in prize money available.
“Since a lot of people don’t want to go up against pros, we’ve had a lot of interest in doing a backyard division,” Inferno Group President Travis Moody said.
The awards ceremony for both backyard and professional winners will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Hendrickson said the Kansas City Barbeque Society will send people to teach a class on being a judge at a barbecue competition. The tuition is $85, and after completing the class a person can apply to be a judge at other barbecue competitions.
A full schedule of events can be found at www.GGWBBQ.com. Registration is not required to participate in the events open to the public.