Twin Valley Fire Department’s first professional barbecue competition, Twin Valley Fire & Smoke, attracted hundreds to Morgantown to support the fire department.
Things were smoking hot at Morgantown’s Friendship Park May 19 and 20, as the smell of barbecued chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket wafted through the air. Overcast skies with a few sprinkles of raindrops had temperatures trying to creep above 65 degrees. A good day for some smoking hot barbecuing!
The Twin Valley Fire & Smoke fundraiser was open to the public. People were donating money into tall firemen boots at the park entrance and on stands throughout the venue as the Twin Valley Fire Department hosted its first professional barbecue competition. There was music, food vendors, local businesses, and fun games for the children including a moon bounce and knocker balls.
“Our all-volunteer fire department has been working on this event for 10 months,” said Bo Gebhardt, TVFC board member and firefighter who also serves as its relief treasurer and trustee. “Our chief, Tom “Pete” Hornberger, leads a BBQ committee that incudes his wife Lori, me, Janet Gebhardt, and Mike Wilson. We enlisted the help of Sandy Fulton, from Maryland, a certified contest organizer and board member for The Kansas City Barbeque Society.”
There were 65 teams from all over the country with painted rigs with names like Dante’s Inferno, War Pig BBQ; Pig & Whig; Rockin Robin; Little Luke’s BBQ; Canada National BBQ, Uncle Pigs BBQ Pit; Bar-B-Q Mayham and Pig Headed BBQ pulling into Morgantown on Friday, may 19.
One of the teams was the Pig Headed BBQers from Middletown, Del. owned by Norma Templeton “Head Pig Master Oinker,” and Ron Templeton,” Assistant Pig Master Oinker. These KCBS old timers have been traveling for 15 years throughout the Mid-Atlantic States. Their team also includes Mike Sagwar “Pig Puller” and 11 other Oinkers.
Along with the Twin Valley Fire & Smoke registered professional contestants, there was also the Backyard Competition where amateurs compete in two categories: chicken and pork.
“Our event is sanctioned by KCBS, the largest worldwide organization of its kind. Governor Tom Wolf has proclaimed this event to be a State Championship which entitles the Pennsylvania Grand Champion to an automatic draw for a chance to compete in the 2017 Jack Daniel’s World Championship Barbecue Competition in Lynchburg, Tennessee,” said Gebhardt.
At the big finale on Saturday, May 20 , Chief Hornberger and Organizer Fulton picked the raffle basket winners and awarded the prize money of $7,000 and ribbons to the Grand Champion Dante’s Inferno and the Reserve Grand Champion Porks and Rec BBQ, as well as the winners in all four categories including: chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket. The winners receive cash prizes and the Grand Champion automatically wins a spot in the professional competition in 2018.
Preparing for that big event, Certified Judges gathered in the Judges Tent. There were 50 from out of state and four from Berks County.
Carole Nolf, a local certified judge with her name tag, and a collection of piggy pins and medals cascading from her neck, shared some professional judging rules, “At all sanctioned competitions, judges must be certified by KCBS and before we judge, we all stand facing south, put our hands in the air and recite our oath. They employ a blind judging process at all official contests, none of the judges knowing whose sample they are judging. We each get at least six samples of each type of meat to judge. Our criteria are appearance, taste and tenderness, on a scale from 1 to 9, 9 being perfect. This is a very expensive competition for the cook teams in both time and money so the judging is very formal, very controlled and very fair. The teams work very hard to place and win those beautiful trophies and money awards!”
“I’m here to take care of the judges and competition teams,” smiled Betty Frizzell from Fredericksburg, Virginia, “I am a certified judge and work with my sister Sandy, making sure they are comfortable. I also make sure the competition teams have a hearty breakfast spread, and whatever they need. For the last 10 years, I have traveled to competitions throughout the states. When we post an upcoming event on our website we have certified judges signing up within the hour. The farmland around here is so beautiful; it has been a fun experience coming to Berks County.”
Sandy Fulton, fondly referred to as the ‘Porkanizer,’ is a legend in BBQ circles, said, “I am passionate about this, I am the only woman on KCBS’s board; we have over 20,000 worldwide members. My favorite part about organizing these events is meeting all these wonderful people and competitors from small towns to big cities, from Pennsylvania to Virginia and more; we are all one big family. I am happy to say that Morgantown has now become part of our family.”
Chief Hornberger said, “Our success today was thanks to great sponsors, hardworking firefighters and supporters and people coming by the hundreds, has lead us to make this an annual event.”
Fulton said, “We will put Morgantown on the BBQ map.”
Visit TVFC website: www.tvfd69.com for info or interested in reserving a spot for next year. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, For Certified Organizer Sandy Fulton www.facebook.com/SandyFulton.Porkanizer, email email@example.com or Kansas City BBQ Society at www.kcbs.us.