Grillin’ at the Pavilion Cook-off

I must have been out of my mind last year. I wore all white to judge a bbq competition. To be fair, my closet is pretty monochromatic; I don’t do color. So when July 4th rolled around, I threw on some white linen pants, a white tank top and a red bracelet for a good measure of festive. I watched every slice of juicy steak, dripping rib, and slathered chicken wing come at me with fear and trepidation while my co-judgers giggled away. But somehow I managed to stay clean--until a tiny bug leapt from the table, splashed down in a puddle of bbq sauce, and landed on my shirt. Lesson learned.

This year, I’m back at the judges’ table again and can’t wait to see what you all cook up. The categories are chicken, steak and pork ribs. "The popular People’s Choice award is back. Having sold out of tasting tickets quickly last year, they've upped the number to 1,400 so more people can enjoy the food. They are available 3 for $5 and you won't want to miss buying some. I’m also excited about a new event—the Creative Burger Quick-Fire Challenge. Teams will be given ground beef, buns and a mystery ingredient and have a limited time to cook three burgers using the supplied provisions and anything else they choose to bring. I’m crossing my fingers that the mystery ingredient is something really crazy.

It only sweetens the deal for me that while I’m judging bbq and enjoying the smell of smokers and sizzling meat, The Judy Chops are playing, followed by Rebbeca Frazier and Hit & Run, accompanied by Virginia wine, craft beer and lots of good food at Turner Pavilion. Of course it’s all followed by fireworks so bring your lawn chair. It’s going to be a good day!

Big Mook’s BBQ from Fall s Church, Va., took the overall title last year and they are registered again for 2014. Let’s give them a hometown run for their money.  I know so many amazing home grill masters that should be in this competition.

This is an official Mid Atlantic Barbecue Association event, so the bragging rights are big, not to mention there are cash prizes involved. You all get your teams together, I’m going to go shopping for some bbq-friendly red, white and blue.

--Kirsten Parmer is a food writer for the Staunton News Leader and the owner of Taste. A Food Company.