The Spruce Pine BBQ Championship and Bluegrass Festival draws grill geeks from around the Southeast. It's even regulated by the Southern Barbecue Network.
The small town of Spruce Pine, north of Burnsville, has an ideal climate for a summer barbecue cook-off, explains Randall Hembree, events coordinator for the Rotary Club of Spruce Pine, one of the festival sponsors. “Our average temperature in Spruce Pine is 79 degrees in July,” he says. “That's the appeal to the competitions: Teams can come up to the mountains during their summer break, stay and do a practice but not have to sweat their way through it.”
For festivalgoers, there will be plenty to eat, including barbecue. Only a couple of the competitors are also licensed vendors, so much of the grilling is more a feast for the eyes. “Some of these things are really fancy, the smokers that they use and the rigs that they have,” Hembree says. “There are a lot of barbecue aficionados that won't be entering the competition but do this at home all the time. They want to get the latest tips and what kind of sauce they use and how long they smoke their pork, those kinds of things.”
A couple of Asheville-based teams will compete for the $500 first-place prizes, including Blue Ridge BBQ & Catering, Fine Swine and Death by Bacon.
Other attractions include live music from Balsam Range and Darin and Brooke Aldridge, a cornhole tournament, clogging performances, a 5k and a craft fair.
The festival runs Friday, July 19, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, July 20, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit the festival's website.