WEST JEFFERSON — At a meeting with county and local business officials on Monday, Oct. 29, Blue Ridge Theater and Event Center owner Steve Mochen announced that the center will host a competition barbecue event in August 2019. The event will feature 40 competitors during two days, and will be the largest event in North Carolina sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The teams will include 20 from North Carolina and five each from Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina, with five additional wild card teams.
Helping to put on the event is James Kilian, who has been involved in competitive barbecue since 1998, and was a member of the 2006 world champion team, Jack’s Old South.
“If you’ve ever had competition barbecue, you’ll never go to another barbecue restaurant in again,” Killian said. “It is the best barbecue in the world.”
While the competitors will be set up to the right of the building, the event will also feature a litany of local breweries and wineries on the other side, who will be showing off their best creations. Mochen said he’s looking for the event to be a economic boon to Ashe County, which was echoed by Killian at the meeting.
“This is going to be a tremendous boost to the county,” Killian said. “There’s not a contest like this in August, and everybody likes to come to the mountains in August to get away from the heat. I would say the county could accumulate $200,000-300,000 worth of revenue over that weekend.”
Mochen admitted that parking will be a big issue for the event. He said that he’s talked to local fire departments and Director Kitty Honeycutt from the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce about the idea of busing people into the event, as the parking lot at the Blue Ridge Event Center will be taken up by competitors.
Killian said that with the closing of the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival, which was held annually in Tryon, this new event will act as the North Carolina State Championship, with bragging rights and thousands of dollars up for grabs.