July 24, 2013

Smokin’ on the Suwannee BBQ Festival this weekend

July 24, 2013 Amber Vann, intern Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak — The annual Smokin’ on the Suwannee BBQ Festival is arriving in Live Oak this weekend at the Suwannee County Fairgrounds. The festival is dubbed the largest cooking competition in the southeastern U.S., and attracts nearly 70 award-winning barbecue cook teams from around the nation.

Presented by North Florida Sales/Yuengling, Smokin’ on the Suwannee (SOTS) is sanctioned by the Florida Barbecue Association (FBA). Teams will compete for $13,000 in cash prizes, and the overall winner of SOTS will be qualified for the World Barbecue Championship in Las Vegas and the American Royal BBQ Contest in Kansas City. The winning team will also be entered in a drawing to compete at the FBA Jack Daniels World Championship in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

“We have several famous competitors this year,” said event organizer Damon Wooley of Wooley Bully BBQ Mafia of Live Oak. “Last year’s winners, Thomas Henry’s Budmeisters, will be returning. We also have several teams that have been featured on TLC’s “BBQ Pitmasters” and the Food Network, like Rob “Rub” Bagby’s Swamp Boys and Bubba Latimer’s Bub-Ba-Q. Many of our teams have won other championships around the U.S.; the food’s guaranteed to be amazing.”

Events will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 26, with vendors set up and barbecue prepared. There will be plenty of family-friendly activities, such as bounce houses, water slides, and water walking balls. Several barbecue teams will be selling their goods, and other vendors will have kettle corn, boiled peanuts, snow cones, and other great food.

“Folks can come out after work on Friday and get dinner,” Wooley said. “And then they can come out on Saturday and get lunch. It’s a cheap way to get a lot of good food.”

The festival will host the Hog Jog 5K Marathon on Saturday morning with awards for best overall male and female as well as first and second place awards for the winning male and female finisher of each age division. The Hog Jog will kick off bright and early at 7:30 a.m. Registration is open until Thursday, July 25.

Following the run, at 10 a.m. a competition of human foosball will be introduced to the lineup of activities at SOTS. Teams of all ages may register in groups of six to compete in this life-size game of foosball.

SOTS will feature a People’s Choice Contest on Saturday afternoon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each participating team is given one Boston butt to prepare, and the public can purchase $10 tickets to sample award-winning barbecue and vote on their favorite. The winner will receive a cash prize and a barbecue fire pit.

All entry fees for the People’s Choice, Hog Jog, and Human Foosball will be contributed to Smokin’ on the Suwannee’s charity of choice, the Youth Advocacy Partnership’s Back to School Bash. That event will also be held at the fairgrounds the following weekend on Saturday, Aug. 3. The Back to School Bash donates school supplies to local students and offers many fun activities for kids to enjoy before school comes back in session.

“I encourage everyone in the community to come out and eat some awesome barbecue and support an awesome cause,” Steven Schneitman, Youth Advocacy director, said.

SOTS will wrap up Saturday around 5 p.m. after cooking teams have turned in their food for over 100 professional judges to taste and deliberate. The winner and awards will be announced at that time.

The Suwannee County Fairgrounds is located at 1302 11th St. SW in Live Oak. Admittance for spectators is free. For more information or to register for events, visit www.smokinonthesuwannee.com.

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