If you're a fan of TLC network's "BBQ Pitmasters" or just consider yourself a pretty fair grill master when it comes to backyard barbecuing, you'll want to make a trip to the Tri-State Exhibition Center in Cleveland, Tenn., on Thursday.
Fifty-five Kansas City Barbecue Society teams will be setting up for the KCBS-sanctioned Backyard BBQ Bash that is being held as part of the ninth annual Foothills Country Fair.
Competitors for the $10,000 prize money will include two-time "Pitmasters" champion Johnny Trigg and former "Pitmasters" judge and three-time KCBS world champion Myron Mixon, according to fair spokeswoman Nancy Alford.
Additionally, 16 amateur teams will compete in the fair's Amateur Backyard BBQ Bash.
"The grounds will be open by 9 a.m. on Thursday. The fair will only open Thursday for our carnival, our pageants for girls ages 5 to 20 and for sightseeing among the barbecue cooks as they set up," said Alford.
"Many teams scheduled to be here, like Warren County Pork Choppers and Byron's Butt Rub, are well-known competitors who have appeared on 'Pitmasters,' " Alford said.
Thursday night's highlight will be the naming of the Foothills Country Fairest of the Fair. Taylor Tipton will crown her successor.
Alford said there is no charge to enter the fairgrounds that evening, but the carnival will charge for its rides ($20 for unlimited rides, $1 for tickets).
The Foothills Country Fair will continue with competitions, craft and livestock demonstrations through July 29. Fairgoers may pay separate admission each night. Admission is $10 on July 27, when country band Shenandoah headlines, and $5 on July 28 and July 29, but a $10 pin will allow admission that Friday through Sunday. Ages 6-12 will be admitted for $3 each. Younger children and active-duty military personnel with ID get in free.
The fair is sponsored by the nine Ruritan Clubs in Bradley and Hamilton counties.
To get to Tri-State Exhibition Center from Chattanooga, take Cleveland Exit 20 off I-75, bear left off the exit ramp and follow that road about a half-mile to the fairgrounds.