Fireworks, Music and Barbecue
When barbecue cooks get together for a contest, expect some good natured ribbing. That is half the fun, says Zac H. Allen, a member of Acworth Business Association and a repeat competitor at the Smoke on the Lake BBQ Festival.
Allen laughed when asked what he would tell other competitors who have signed up for this year’s event May 12-13. “I would tell them that they probably don’t have much of a chance with me there, but that they should come out and have fun anyway,” Allen said, adding, “We do a lot of trash talking.”
Barbecue is the star of the event, but there are also fireworks, live music, a kids’ zone and family entertainment. Fireworks take place Friday night as competitors fire up their grills, along with a performance by Sons of Sailors, a Jimmy Buffet tribute band. There’s also “The Lord of the Wings” contest, when participating teams serve wings to the public for judging. On Saturday, barbecue is judged by the Georgia Barbecue Association. Admission to the park is free, but there is a charge to sample some barbecue items and to purchase meals. Competitors pay to participate. One hundred percent of net proceeds go to the community, according to North Cobb Rotary.
The organization hopes to raise $25,000 this year to provide grants to local nonprofits and to get work done in the Acworth and Kennesaw areas, according to North Cobb Rotary President Jude Dooley.
“Last year, we brought in $18,000 that was distributed to about 12 nonprofits, including Boy Scouts, YWCA, YMCA, Mountain Top Boys Home and Horizon Field,” said Dooley.
Allen, who owns Affordable Tax & Accounting Solutions, says the community fundraising aspect of the event is a big draw for him. As far as barbecue, he wants to win this year for his ribs, but he’s going for gold in every category he enters. His first barbecue contest was Kennesaw’s Pigs and Peaches in August 2013. He took home third place in pulled pork. The next spring he entered the Smoke on the Lake contest and won in that category. In 2015, he placed for pulled pork. Last year he was three-tenths of a point away for winning for chicken, but won for sauce.
“Winning the contest is all about the bragging rights,” Allen said.
Allen hasn’t done much to his recipe through the years. “I figure if I had success in the past, I don’t want to mess with it,” he said. And exactly what’s in the sauce? “It’s good,” is about all he would say.
People really should come out for the event, Allen said. “It’s a big fundraiser for the community, it happens at a great time of year when it’s not too hot yet, and mainly it’s a lot of fun.”
By Carla Caldwell, editor of Around Acworth