Before you even see the smoke, your nose picks up the rich, luscious scent of barbeque chuffing out of more than a dozen cookers. Tents shield the grill masters from the intense South Georgia summer sun, while a sprinkling of chairs compete for a few patches of shade. In the background a local musical group, The Groove, sets the tone of a southern style family reunion.
It’s the 16th annual Downtown Barbeque Competition in Valdosta, GA sponsored by the 100 Black Men organization, a local chapter of the national organization focusing on achievement, scholarship and mentoring of youngsters in the African-American community. It’s one of several fund raisers they hold throughout the year.
Stroll the grounds of the Lowndes county courthouse where thousands of visitors stop to sample a variety of grilled ribs, pulled pork, smoked butt, chicken and even deep fried alligator. There’s Carolina mustard sauce, baked beans, funnel cakes and bottled water for sale. You can even buy Nirobi African sculptures, paintings and watercolors.
Zach & Zoei’s Bar-B-Que uses a smoker named “The Praiser” which produces tender, savory chicken and meaty ribs. The name originated as an acknowledgement of the blessings the griller had received from the Lord that enables him to produce his tasty creations.
Another of the 16 competitors whose tent lines the sidewalk is Sam’s BBQ, (this year’s 1st place winner). One bite of a delicious rib and munchers will understand why he can add the new trophy to the collection on display in the corner of his tent.Never had ‘gator? Frog legs? Gizzard? There’s a chance to sample bites of these local delicacies at the Gator’s Rib Shack display, whose entry won 2nd place in the Commercial Category.