CRESTVIEW — Triple B is coming up fast, and the smell of barbeque will soon fill the air over Old Spanish Trail.
The 14th annual Blackwater, Bands and Barbeque Cookoff will take place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 24 at Spanish Trail Park.
There are currently five barbeque competitors signed up to participate in the event: Ranch House Kitchen, Pigstickers, Smokin’ Hot Wheels, Cook’s Portable Smokehouse and Two Brothers BBQ. Dino Sinopoli, president of the Triple B Committee, says he expects to have about eight competitors signed up in time for the festival.
The People’s Choice award will be returning this year with specially designated lines at participating barbeque vendors. The new line format will ensure people don’t have to wait in the full service lines to get the $1 samples.
“We’re going to have two lines so you’re not spending forever in a line to get a sample,” Sinopoli said. “We should have helium balloons that identify which ones are in the People’s Choice.”
Not all of the barbeque competitors will be participating in the People’s Choice competition, but Sinopoli says at least three competitors are already signed up. People’s Choice sample tickets will be sold for $1 each but will be more limited in supply this year to avoid overselling. In previous years, too many tickets were sold and competitors ran out of supplies.
Competitors can still sign up for the full competition until Wednesday, March 21. After that, they will be charged an extra $25 fee.
This year, a beer garden will be part of the festival for the first time. It will be in a separate area from the rest of the festival, and no alcohol will be allowed to leave the beer garden area.
“There are wristbands, and [attendees] are going to be carded whenever they buy beer or anything like that,” Sinopoli said.
Bands registered so far include New Earth Army, Schatzi & the String Boffin and Still Standing, an Elton John tribute band.
As in previous years, there will be plenty of vendors attending the event, including non-barbeque food vendors, local businesses and political organizations. Crestview Fire Department and Crestview Police Department will also be there to offer family-friendly activities.
Weather was a big concern for last year’s festival. Forecasters predicted rain for the day of the event, but it ultimately held off. This year, the forecast is looking brighter.
“The weather is going to be perfect,” Sinopoli said. “It’s going to be 76 degrees … mostly sunny forecast, so it couldn’t be any better than that.”