CRESTVIEW — The return of warm weather means that Triple B is right around the corner.

The 14th annual Crestview Blackwater, Bands and Barbeque Cookoff is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 24 at Old Spanish Trail Park pavilion on Stillwell Boulevard. This is the second consecutive year the festival will be held at the park, after being moved from Main Street last year.

Last year’s event was sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, which meant a larger venue was needed to accommodate the increased number of competitors from the previous year.

This year, the festival will be part of the Florida Barbeque Association, giving the cookoff a more local flavor.

Dino Sinopoli, the new chair of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s Triple B Committee, says using the park as a venue makes it easier to comply with the rules of the competition.

“The competition starts at five o’clock the night before, so a lot of the competitors will be out there all night cooking,” he said. “The temperature of all the meats has to be inspected before they begin, and then they have to follow the rules and regulations, and then turn in their product the next day.”

The People’s Choice competition will be returning this year with one notable change. There will be clearly marked lines for People’s Choice samples that can be purchased with a ticket and the regular barbecue lines for full purchases. Sinopoli says the change was decided on after receiving feedback about long lines at last year’s event.

This year’s Triple B festival will add a fourth B into the mix.

“It’s been the Triple B Barbecue, which is Blackwater, Bands and Barbeque and this year we’ve got beer. We’ve got a fourth dimension,” Sinopoli said. “We’ve got everything set up for liquor licenses and volunteers to run the booth.”

Alcohol sales usually raise concerns at large events, but Sinopoli says the event staff is taking precautions to make sure the festival is safe and family-friendly.

“Everybody’s taken their serving class for that to make sure it’s all done to the code of the law, and to make sure it’s a good family fun event,” he said. “Our beer is very much controlled. It’ll either be a draft beer setup or a can setup, where you have to come to one spot and purchase the beer, and that gives better control.”

Notable attractions that won’t be returning this year are the bounce house and slides. Sinopoli says the insurance costs to include them have increased, forcing the organizers to make the difficult decision of excluding them from this year’s event.

“We have to indemnify the Crestview chamber and the city,” he said. “By the time you make everybody happy, there are just some things that cannot be in there and that’s any rides.”

There will still be other family-friendly attractions at the festival. Many vendors offer games and activities for kids, like face-painting, cornhole tosses and giveaways. 

“It’s (going to) be a lot of fun for the kids and lots of good food,” Sinopoli said.