Here's a current list of the Kansas City Barbeque Society contests scheduled for 2014 in the Chattanooga region.
Cleveland: Foothills Country Fair BBQ Bash, July 25-26
Cookeville: Tony Stone-Cookeville Cookoff, Sept. 5-6
Winchester: High on the Hog Festival, April 18-19
Pikeville: Smoke in Valley, Oct. 10-11
Source: Kansas City Barbeque Society
To learn more, go to bledsoecountyrescue.com and click on the "events" button to find more information and an application to enter the contest or become a judge. The event is for smokers only, no gas or electric cooking allowed.
What better fundraising idea is there for a rescue squad than something that smokes?
The Bledsoe County Rescue Squad is prepping for a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned competition to raise money. Organizers are dubbing the community event "Smoke in the Valley Pro and Backyard Competition and Festival," according to Earline Young, the squad historian.
"Last year, I presented a barbecue competition to the Bledsoe County Rescue Squad as a fundraiser," Young said.
"A family member in Middle Tennessee had worked with the Kansas City Barbeque Society for several years to raise funds for their youth sports," she said. "It worked for them, so I thought, why not try it here?"
The squad tested the waters with a successful amateur event last year that falls under the sanctioning body's definition of a "backyard" competition.
Gov. Bill Haslam's proclamation made it an official state championship event, meaning winners in Pikeville get a chance to compete in "invitation-only" contests like the American Royal World Series of Barbecue contest in Kansas City, Mo., and the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue contest in Lynchburg, Tenn., she said.
Carolyn Wells, a Nashville native who is executive director and co-founder of the Kansas City Barbeque Society, said Pikeville's move to a sanctioned championship event puts the contest in the big leagues.
There are 17 events planned across the state this year, four of them about an hour's drive from Chattanooga.
"Barbecue is Americana. We all started with pup tents and Weber kettles, and now it's motor homes and mobile kitchens," she said.
The total prize money for 2014 is more than $4 million in the society's 450-plus sanctioned contests, she said. Each contest raises its own prize purse.
Young said Pikeville's event will include music, crafts and other vendor booths as part of the festival. Those elements are being planned now.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569.