by Rob McDaniel & R. Scott Belzer
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — There’s just something about the sun that makes people want to barbecue and, as March brings warmer weather, dozens of grill masters will be heading to London to compete in the first-ever Grills Gone Wild BBQ Festival.
The two-day event, sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), has already been named the Kentucky State Championship by Governor Steve Beshear and is continuing to gain momentum as grillers and barbecue lovers across the state make plans to attend.
The festival will be held at the Laurel-London Optimist Sports Complex off Ky. 80. There is no cost to attend, however parking fees will apply.
Professional competitors will compete in chicken, pork, ribs and beef brisket categories while those competing in the Backyard division will compete in chicken, pork and ribs.
“Normally in a barbecue competition, KCBS doesn’t allow the competitors to give out samples,” said Travis Moody. “However, we are having a People’s Choice division where the general public can pay $10 for five two-ounce samples of competition BBQ pork and vote on the one they like the best. The winner of that will receive the People’s Choice Award.”
The event will also feature musical entertainment by Tim Goodin, Jade Robertson, Blake Branscom, Frontier, Lockdown, Nate Cornette and Joe Coe. There will also be a corn hole tournament, a Little Caesars Pizza! Pizza! Eating Contest, a car show, a 5K and many other events for families.
The Saturday morning 5K (3.1 miles) will feature a run through scenic downtown London, courtesy of Anesthesia Associates of Appalachia, on March 29. The race will be professionally timed by Tri-State Racers, offering serious runners a chance to best their personal records via chip timing. Awards will be given for the overall best male and female time. Different age and gender categories for the race include men and women’s 13-18, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, as well as 60 and older. PorkChop the Pig, the event’s official mascot, will also be hanging out to provide motivation and entertainment.
Registration now until the day of the race is $30. Group discounts, ranging up to 20 percent, are also available for groups of 10 or more runners. Online registration will end Thursday, March 27 at 11 p.m., but runners can still enter the race the morning of the event. Children 12 and under can run for free, if accompanied by a paying adult.
A certain percentage of proceeds from registration are set to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a veteran service organization that offers a variety of rehab programs, services and social events.
The Grills Gone Wild BBQ Festival will be on Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29 at the Laurel-London Optimist Sports Complex in London. For more information, including a detailed schedule of events, visit www.ggwbq.com.