Sweet (or spicy) pickin's

W.Va. barbecue and bluegrass festival debuts Saturday

W.Va. barbecue and bluegrass festival debuts Saturday

September 06, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - If you aren't well-versed in both barbecue and bluegrass music, you'll have a chance to try both Saturday when food and music converge at the new Pickin' in the Panhandle: West Virginia State BBQ & Bluegrass Festival.

The event at Lazy A Campground, a former farm northwest of Inwood, will feature six bluegrass bands and at least 19 barbecue vendors, said Andrea Ball, executive director for the sponsoring Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Festival-goers will be able to buy barbecue from the vendors and possibly sample some barbecue from teams competing in professional and backyard barbecue contests, Ball said.

They can do all this while listening to the bands and music contests, including a fiddle-off for fiddlers and a pick-off for flat-pickin' banjo players. There will be monetary prizes for the music contests.


Larry Hines, a board member for the tourism bureau, got the idea for a barbecue event when he realized West Virginia didn't have a state barbecue championship, Ball said. Bluegrass seemed a natural accompaniment.

At least 32 professional and 11 backyard barbecue teams will compete, Ball said.

The overall winner in the professional barbecue category will win $1,500. The festival has received sanctioning from The Kansas City Barbecue Society for next year's event so the 2008 professional winner will go on to the national barbecue contest in Memphis, Tenn., Ball said.

The overall winner in the backyard barbecue competition will receive $500. There are monetary prizes for the top three overall finishers as well as for the top three in chicken, ribs and cook's choice categories. There also will be prizes for showmanship and best sauce or marinade that uses Budweiser beer or barbecue sauce as a base.

Co-headlining the musical portion of the festival are Cadillac Sky, and Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain. Also performing are Half Bad Bluegrass Band, Lonesome Highway, The Rolling Coyotes and The Vaughn Family.

Vocalist Hassler, 28, of Crossville, Tenn., is backed by banjo, mandolin, bass, fiddle, guitar and, occasionally, a dobro.

Expect a high-energy, fun show, Hassler said, in which the band will perform songs from its self-titled first nationally released album as well as some classic country and gospel.

All but two or three of the songs on their latest album are originals.

Hassler, who grew up singing gospel, started singing bluegrass about four years ago after sitting in with a bluegrass group, she said.

She enjoys the sound, the instruments, the messages, the fun and the family atmosphere associated with bluegrass festivals, which she said are like a "big family reunion."

To learn more about Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain, go to or


(Times are approximate.)

· 9:30 a.m.: Gates open

· 10 to 10:40 a.m.: Rolling Coyotes

· 10:50 to 11:20 a.m.: The Vaughn Family

· 11:30 a.m. to noon: Half Bad Bluegrass Band

· 1 p.m.: BBQ Cook-off judging

· 12:15 to 1 p.m.: Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain

· 1:15 to 2 p.m.: Lonesome Highway

· 2 p.m.: Music competitions - fiddle-off, pick-off, bluegrass band and Great WV Breakdown, in which anything goes

· 3:15 to 4 p.m.: Half Bad Bluegrass Band

· 4 to 4:15 p.m.: Barbecue and Bluegrass Awards

· 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.: Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain

· 5:30 to 6 p.m.: The Vaughn Family

· 6:15 to 7:30 p.m.:Cadillac Sky

· 7:30 p.m.: Gates close

If you go ...

WHAT: Pickin' in the Panhandle: West Virginia State BBQ & Bluegrass Festival

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8

WHERE: Lazy A Campground, 317 Kathy's Lane, northwest of Inwood, W.Va.

COST: Advance tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for ages 3 to 11. At the gate, tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for ages 3 to 11. Ages 2 and younger get in free. For tickets, call 304-264-8801 or stop by the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau in the Caperton Train Station at 229 E. Martin St. in Martinsburg, W.Va.

DIRECTIONS: From Hagerstown, take Interstate 81 south into West Virginia. Take exit 5 for W.Va. 51 (Inwood/Charles Town exit). Turn right (west) onto W.Va. 51 and go 4.6 miles. Turn left (west) onto W.Va. 45 and go 2.6 miles. Then turn right (north) onto Back Creek Valley Road and go 1.9 miles. Turn right (east) onto Kathy's Lane.

MORE: There also will be a beer garden with microbrews and Budweiser; arts and crafts in the barn; and children's activities, including a hot dog fixin' contest.

For more information, call the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 304-264-8801 or go to

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