As president of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, Frank Tamberrino has been working with local businesses and events for years. However, even he couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm at the mention of an upcoming Rockingham County event.
“This is going to be great fun and something unique,” he said. “An event like this really brings the people to town. It is a great way to close out the summer and we get to catch the college students as they’re coming back, too.”
The event Tamberrino is referring to is the Second Annual Blue Ridge Music and BBQ Festival, which will be held Aug. 23-24 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds. This family-friendly festival will feature an abundance of competitions and live entertainment, along with cornhole and a classic car show. There will also be activities made specifically for kids, which include face painting, a petting zoo, balloon art, a photo station and a bounce house.
One of the most anticipated aspects of this festival is a barbecue competition held that Saturday. At least 25 teams will compete in the cooking event, which include categories such as poultry, beef brisket, ribs and pulled pork. The winners will be determined by a panel of judges that test each team’s sample, and will be critiqued based on taste, texture and presentation.
Both the teams and judges are formed voluntarily based on word of mouth. The teams are composed of five to six individuals, representing an organization or simply just a group of friends. The festival is not limiting the competitors to strictly the Valley area; people from Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina will be traveling to the festival in order to compete. One of the teams will be a group of firemen from Washington, D.C., looking to show off their barbecuing chops for the panel.
Furthermore, 11 of these teams will compete in a “People’s Championship Round.” The respective teams will distribute extra food samples to spectators, who in turn will write down the team who they feel has the best samples. The winning team will be crowned “People’s Champion,” and receive a trophy and prize.
In addition to the barbecue competition, spectators will be treated to a couple of live concerts over the course of the two days. On Friday night, Harrisonburg’s own “The Travelin’ Hillbillies” will perform. Last year, the band covered the 90s classic “No Diggity,” so pinning down their style is difficult.
On Saturday, musician Bryan Elijah Smith and his band “The Wildhearts” will be performing. Smith is a singer-songwriter with an alternative-Americana sound. His latest album, “Turn It Up,” consists of 11 songs, all written and produced by Smith himself.
The festival will conclude with a bang as eight local bands will gear up for a “Battle of the Bands” competition.
Participating groups cover a variety of genres, including country, rock and bluegrass. The grand prize is a new electric guitar.
“It’s great because we have nothing immediately local in the area when it comes to a ‘Battle of the Bands,’ ” said Josh Hale, Event Chairman of the festival. “This is something very new to us, but I think it’s a great event.”
Jessica Sibold, account executive at Clear Channel Entertainment, who helped put together this year’s “Battle of the Bands” competition, made it clear that this is a show people do not want to miss.
“We have several local bands that are coming out to fight for the title and that can’t wait to show us how great they are,” said Sibold. “The battle will start at 11 a.m. at the Rockingham County fair grounds and we will award the winner at 4 p.m., that day. Anyone that loves local events will definitely want to come and support local live music.”
Tamberrino added that there would be food and craft vendors throughout the festival, along with beer and wine tasting stations.
He also threw in one more important slice of information.
“There will be $6,000 worth of prize money handed out over the course of the weekend,” said Tamberrino, in regards to the festival. “[The festival] is starting to pick up steam. Hopefully, this becomes a signature event for years to come.”
Gates open at 5 p.m. Aug. 23 and 10 a.m. Aug. 24. Tickets cost $8 in advance and $10 at the gate; kids 10 and under are admitted free. Tickets are available at blueridgemusicandbbq.com.
Contact Matt Gonzales at (540) 574-6265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.