The sight of smoke and smell of meat cooking on the grill will attract area residents and visitors to downtown Valdosta this Saturday.
Members of the 100 Black Men of Valdosta Inc. will be hosting its 15th annual Top Barbecue Chefs Cook-off in the area of the Lowndes County Courthouse lawn.
“One (thing I look forward to) is it’s a family affair and to see the people come down and in some cases bring their chaise lounge and enjoy the music and to eat barbecue if you will,” Willie T. Head, Jr., event coordinator of the 100 Black Men of Valdosta Inc., said. “I enjoy also walking around just observing contestants.”
While the cook-off begins at 10 a.m., contestants will begin setting up at 6 a.m.
This year’s event will have about 25 contestants competing in one of two categories, business and backyard-patio.
Judging will begin at 12:30 p.m., as contestants get judged on three categories, beef, pork or poultry.
“They can cook anything they want, but they can only submit one item in one category,” Head said. “Some say it’s all in the seasoning, some say it’s all in the wood, some say it’s a dry rub or a wet rub, and you wonder, what makes a good chicken or ribs.”
First place winners will receive $300 and a trophy, and second and third place winners will receive a trophy.
The 100 Black Men of Valdosta first organized the event in 1995 to raise money for SAT book distribution, college scholarships, mentoring and other programs for the area.
In the past, the cook-off has raised up to $15,000. The money comes from the $200 entry fee and from sponsorships by area businesses, such as First Federal Savings and Loan, Wal-Mart, Central Valdosta Development Authority and Guardians Bank.
“With corporate donations and so forth we always shoot to make as much as we can,” Head said. “We don’t really have a target.”
The event should bring in between 4,000 and 6,000 people.
“People come and go, people who are passing through the city, you know, traveling West there on Central Avenue (or) people going North and South on Patterson Street and so forth,” Head said. “(They) see the smoke, smell the smoke, and see the cooking that’s going on.”
During the cook-off, local artists will be entertaining the public and contestants will be selling their barbecue.
“They (the public) see the smoke and smell the guys cooking and it doesn’t take long before rumor travels throughout downtown and they’re ready to start eating,” Head said. “Contestants are ready to sell and can sell.”
For more information, contact Willie T. Head, Jr. at (229) 251-6134.