3-day BBQ competition kicks off in Mannington with new attractions

May 21—MANNINGTON—Fragrance reveals it.

For the fourth year, Mannington’s Hough Park is filled with trailers, RVs, smokehouses and grills as part of the Forks of the Buffalo BBQ Throwdown, a nationally sanctioned event by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Formerly known as Smokin’ on the Buffalo BBQ Brawl, the event has changed its name but brings the same fun and food as the past four years with several new additions to appeal to all ages.

Mannington City Council member and tournament organizer John Craw said the barbecue has always been special to him.

“Back when I was in the Marine Corps, me and my Marines, every time we got off duty, we went home and smoked ribs or pork butt or whatever really,” said declared Craw. “I started to get pretty decent and even did a few competitions myself.”

This competition is what is called a “double”, which means the teams will set up one night, cook overnight, then hand over the meat for the first judging and do it again the following night.

On Friday evening, the competitors had already set up camp at the fairgrounds and had already started smoking their meats for Saturday’s judging. The cooks will have to make either two meats or four depending on their classification as amateur or pro.

Twenty-five teams are signed up to compete in this year’s competition, and Craw and its judges are excited to see what this year’s roster of cooks will come up with.

“It’s next-level stuff. What these teams do is one bite. Everything they do in preparation is one bite,” Craw said. “It also depends on the presentation. They get a polystyrene box to fill with their meat and give to the judges and every bite has to be exactly the same. It’s amazing how much detail these teams put into it.”

The winner of the contest will have the chance to represent West Virginia at the Jack Daniels Worldwide Invitational BBQ Championship, to be held October 14-15 in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

A new addition to this year’s event is a selection of local food and craft vendors lined up in the parking lot behind the Hough Park stage.

Over 40 vendors will be set up to sell their wares over the weekend. Chelsea Craw, event committee member and organizer of this year’s vendors, said the intent of the vendors’ area was to add a piece to the fun, so it wasn’t just for people who like the barbecue.

“We wanted to have a little something for everyone,” said Chelsea Craw. “We knew that if we had vendors and other festivities throughout the festival, we would bring in all kinds of people, it wouldn’t just be people interested in the barbecue aspect.”

In addition to the vendors, RSW Wrestling is hosting an event at the festival on Saturday night and a performance by the Marshall Lowry Band will follow. The rest of the weekend will be punctuated by a car cruise, awards ceremonies, public prizes and a cornhole tournament.

Another first at this year’s event is the Buffalo Forks Beauty Pageant. Co-organizers Priscilla Bennett and Sophia Wayne hope that after this year’s pageant they can send a queen each year to represent the festival at the state fairs and festivals pageant.

“It’s our hope for next year that our queen will represent the festival to the state,” Bennett said. “Unfortunately, to enter the state pageant, our pageant has to stand alone for a year, so this year we hope our queen can make appearances around the event and hand out prizes to the barbecue winners.”

All in all, the organizers are excited to bring fun and food to Mannington. The festival will continue throughout this weekend, for a full list of events and times visit www.softhebuffalobbqthrowdown.com.

“I love Mannington, it’s my hometown and it’s a beautiful town,” said John Craw. “The fact that all these teams want to come here is great.”

Contact David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at [email protected]

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Edward L. Robinett