Discover Farmington’s barbecue, beer and blues event brings thousands to downtown
SARAH HAAS, firstname.lastname@example.org
The smoke has cleared, the beer trucks have motored off, and the bands have packed up and gone home, signifying another successful Blues, Brews & BBQ (B3) produced by Discover Farmington.
Mild temperatures brought thousands of people to downtown Farmington for the sixth annual B3 which featured a St. Louis BBQ Society-sanctioned barbecue contest, multiple bands, vendor booths, an Autos 4 Autism fundraising VW car show, and a host of food trucks, demonstrations, kid activities and general community fellowship.
“I think last night might have been our biggest Friday night,” said Discover Farmington’s Kristen White on Saturday afternoon as she manned the B3 merchandise booth at the corner of Columbia and Washington streets. “We were really pleased with the turnout. And it’s really been active today. I think people just want to get out and enjoy this great weather.”
This year’s B3 free music lineup included the Mineral Area Jazz Band, Sean Canan’s Voodoo Allman Bros., Nick Schnebelen and Eric Johanson.
In addition to the barbecue competition and free music, B3 features a Kids Area, courtesy of CASA of the Parkland; the Autos 4 Autism VW Car Show and the First State Community Bank-sponsored Corn Hole Competition, in addition to a wide selection of food and beverage vendors. For those who might need a break from the sun, a Cooling Tent will be provided by Nicholson Mechanical Contractors.
Paul Grindstaff, who organizes the barbecue contest sponsored by Fireplace and Outdoor Living Supply in Farmington and Fenton, said the planning for next year will start within the next month.
“We’ll have a big meeting after this to pretty much go over what went well and what didn’t go well and maybe some comments that we got,” he said. “We’ll try to send out a survey on Facebook, let people take that, let us know what to do. And we’ll just keep going as long as people keep coming. We’ll keep doing it.”
Grindstaff agreed with White, Friday night’s crowd was larger than usual.
“It’s really neat to be able to look from the stage out and see all the people and everybody sitting and having fun and so that’s really gone over well,” he said on Saturday afternoon. “This is the most food vendors we’ve ever had. And everyone I talked to last night was extremely happy with their sales.”
He said the number of teams competing in the St. Louis-sanctioned barbecue contest was slightly lower because next week’s American Royal competition in Kansas City is considered the World Series of barbecue events and might have drawn the focus of some competitors.
“A lot of teams are using this weekend to take a break and practice for that, and normally [B3] is one week earlier,” Grindstaff said. “So next year, B3 will be on Sept. 13 and 14.”
Twelve teams Saturday competed for the top barbecue spot and to share in $8,000 in prizes and handmade trophies, but ultimately it was the St. Charles-based Vets Rollin’ Smoke & BBQ team that took the position of Grand Champion, followed by the Ironton team Big Boots BBQ in the Reserve Grand Champion slot.
The competing teams also included Good Greif BBQ; Take It Easy BBQ; Hog Holler BBQ; Sum Buck BB; Pappy’s Lip Smackin’ BBQ; Hog Brown BBQ; Hickory Stick BBQ; Straight Bones BBQ; Coming in Hot; and Missouri Pitfire.
Bobby Medellin of Rollin’ Smoke said he notices Missouri and Illinois barbecue judges are different, in his experience.
“I feel like Missouri likes more of the sweet and savory, while Illinois likes sweet, but they want a little bit of kick, a little bit of heat,” he said.
Grindstaff said if he wasn’t organizing the contest he’d be “in the pit.”
“But I get to walk around and get samples,” he said. “I would say my strategies for barbecue have completely changed since seeing these guys barbecue. When I learned about barbecue, you always started the night before and you have to stay up all night, do all that. Some of these people don’t light the fire until 6 in the morning.”
Grindstaff said what most visitors don’t get to experience is the early-morning prep among the contestants.
“You should’ve been out here this morning, it was really neat,” he said Saturday. “The wind wasn’t really blowing and you could just kind of see the smoke rising above and it smelled incredible.”
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