Six pitmasters. Nine bands. Two days of food and festivities. That’s what is on tap for the Kentucky State BBQ Festival, set for Saturday and Sunday in and around Constitution Square Park.
The festival, now in its second year, is an “eating event” — hungry stomachs are a must — and will feature activities for children as well as cooking demonstrations to go with the good eats. Festival organizers Brad and Cindy Simmons said last year’s festival drew several thousand people.
Last year’s pitmasters are returning this year. They are: Moe Cason, Ponderosa BBQ Team, Des Moines, Iowa; Melissa Cookston of Memphis BBQ Co., Horn Lake, Miss.; Craig Kimmel of Firehouse BBQ, DeLand, Fla.; Carey Bringle, the Peg Leg Porker from Nashville, Tenn.; Shelly Hunt of Desperado’s BBQ, Angola, N.Y.; and the Simmonses, owners of Danville’s own Lucky Dog BBQ.
Cason said he enjoyed being in Danville in 2011.
“The locals are great. They are behind the festival 100 percent,” he noted.
Cason will bring pork, beef, chicken “and some great sides.”
“I want customers to enjoy my BBQ products and (their) experience at my tent.”
Hunt said she loved the reception and enthusiasm she experienced in Danville last year.
“Where else do you find quaint places like V-The Market and The Beer Engine? Usually ‘small town’ equates to a ‘small festival,’ but Danville proved to us that they come out in a big way for events such as this,” Hunt explained.
Hunt will bring ribs, pulled pork, chicken and spicy mac-and-cheese.
“If I can find them on the way down, I’ll be roasting some sweet potatoes with cinnamon butter,” she added.
“I hope people that visit my tent come away knowing the passion and love that goes into making our barbecue taste so good. It’s a ton of work, but feeding friends, family and residents of towns like Danville makes it so worthwhile and fun.”
Tim Farmer of the KET show “Kentucky Afield” is returning this year but in a different capacity. He will film an episode of a new show on which he is working. “We’re honored he’s going to be filming an episode (at the festival),” Brad Simmons said.
Western Kentucky University professor Wes Berry, of Wes Berry’s Kentucky Barbecue Adventures, will be on hand at the festival. Berry will have a book out in February that details his trek all over the commonwealth, eating and photographing barbecue.
“He’s just a neat guy,” Brad Simmons noted.
Berry also will be at the festival filming. He has a television show at WBKO in Bowling Green that Simmons described as “kind of a ‘Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.’”
“Last year, he gave his students the day off (from class) Friday so they could have time to travel to the BBQ Festival,” Simmons added.
New to the event this year is the Bourbon Barrel Art Project. Local businesses and individuals have sponsored bourbon barrels that were supplied by Beam Global, makers of Jim Beam and Makers Mark bourbons. The barrels then were decorated by local artists who were selected by the sponsors.
On Friday, an auction of the bourbon barrel art will kick off the festival weekend. Proceeds will go to Heart of Kentucky United Way.
Barrels can be viewed before the auction beginning at 7 p.m. The auction will begin at 8 p.m. at The Warehouse on Perryville Street in Danville.