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CRESTVIEW—The Triple B festival is returning to Crestview for the 13th consecutive year and will highlight new features blended with old traditions.

The event’s experience begins the moment car doors open as the smell of barbecue fills the air, a scent certain to be even stronger in 2017.

Triple B has partnered with the Kansas City Barbeque Society to become an officially sanctioned event on the group’s competitive circuit. During a sanctioned event, competitors can earn points to qualify them for the national competition held annually in Kansas City.

“We have a guy coming from Arizona, from Ohio, from North Carolina,” Crestview Area Chamber President Valerie Lott said. The chamber is the organization behind the Triple B.

The increase of barbecue vendors, expected to be about 30, demanded a shift in venue. Previously, the festival has been held in downtown’s Main Street area but with more participants comes more equipment.

The rigs and trailers used by some of the individuals on the competitive circuit would also be too cumbersome for downtown, according to Lott. This year, the Triple B takes place at Old Spanish Trail to accommodate the event’s growth.

While KCBS members will compete for a national award, local pitmasters and cooks will still be featured in a separate area, Lott added.

“We didn’t want to lose that local, backyard element of the festival,” Lott said. “It’s also there for those local people that just want to be able to find someplace they can go to after the festival ends. A local place isn’t going anywhere when the event ends, so people can still seek them out.”

This also means that the People’s Choice award will continue in 2017. This award will be presented to a local pitmaster, not on the professional circuit, receiving the most votes. Tickets for the competition will cost $1 and allow people to sample a participating barbecue vendor for a sample. Attendees can then vote for their favorite.

Partnering with KCBS has also allowed the Triple B to lure regional pitmasters that they were unable to secure in previous years because of scheduling conflicts. Lott explained that last year another Panhandle event, sponsored by KCBS, drew some barbecue cooks rather than Triple B.

“These were things we didn’t even think about in the past,” Lott said.

A new venue and new city laws also raised other questions about how the event would be run. Previously, the event was free to attend thanks in part to the nature of its location. Now, with a controlled venue site, the chamber had the option to charge an admission fee — an option the group declined.

“How could we charge for it?” Lott said. “Our mission is to provide the community with events that everyone can attend” and charging for entrance could discourage or hinder some attendees.

The chamber also faced the question of alcohol. New city laws permit events such as the Triple B to sell alcohol if they receive the proper permitting. Again, the decision was made to stick with tradition.

“Our interest is having family-friendly events and while you can certainly have alcohol and be family-friendly, it just isn’t the image of the chamber,” Lott said.