Barbecue and bluegrass bring competition and music to Pickin' in the Panhandle

September 10, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Travis Castleman, left, and Doug Shell of Cousins Backyard BBQ were among those competing Saturday in the barbecue competition at Pickin' in the Panhandle at the Lazy A Campground in Back Creek Valley, W.Va.
By Richard F. Belisle

BACK CREEK VALLEY, W.Va. — Sixty-one barbecue teams and nearly 46 bluegrass bands brought the competition and the music to this weekend's Pickin' in the Panhandle at the Lazy A Campground.

The festival, estimated to bring in between 8,000 and 10,000 people during its three days, "is the signature event of the year of the Martinsburg/Berkeley County Convention and Business Bureau," festival publicist Sandy Sponaugle said.

Friday's heavy rains dampened the estimate for Friday's schedule, but Saturday's clear, dry weather helped to make up for Friday's losses, event officials said.

"The rain killed us Friday," backstage manager Will Astle said.

Some RVs got stuck in the mud, Astle said. Four dump-truck loads of stone were brought in to dry up the festival grounds and roadways.

"It's drying up pretty good today," Astle said.

The festival's theme is "Smoke & 'Grass" because it combines bluegrass music with barbecue competitions.

The weekend competition represents the official Kansas City Barbecue Society's West Virginia State Professional BBQ Championship and an official Backyard BBQ Cook-Off.

On the bluegrass side of the festival, 46 performers and bands of local, regional and national fame took to the Main Stage, Pickin' Porch and Mountaineer Stage throughout the three days.

Former professional basketball player turned country music star Trent Tomlinson headlined Saturday night's performers on the Main Stage. He was preceded by the Lonesome River Band, Circa Blue and the SteelDrivers, and some local and area groups.

Marty Stuart tops off this afternoon's Main Stage performers at 4 p.m.

Top-rated bluegrass artists Ricky Skaggs and Charlie Daniels have headlined shows in previous years, Astle said.

The festival was held for the first time in 2007.

It runs Sunday from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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