By Jeff Clark
A popular barbecue competition returns Friday after a one-year absence. Grilling on the River, a barbecue competition sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society, officially gets underway Friday at 4p.m at the Riverwalk area in front of Reubens Fish and Steakhouse. And for event founder Harvey Myrick, the return of the competition could not have come soon enough.
“After laying off a year, we are back with more than 40 professional and amateur teams from eight states,” Myrick said. “The winner of this event will be invited to the American Royal BBQ contest in Kansas City. Grilling on the River is a state championship contest.”
According to Myrick, GOTR started in 2006 at its current location. It moved to the Magnolia Speedway in 2007-2008 and returned to the Riverwalk in 2009 and 2010.
Myrick, who serves as the at-large appointment on the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau’s board of directors, was publicly criticized by some board members including Rissa Lawrence and Bart Wise for his connection to the event, which can receive partial funding through a CVB-approved grant. The event’s organizers, including Myrick, opted to place the event on hiatus for 2011 while Myrick awaited an opinion from the Mississippi Ethics Commission. Although Myrick reduced his involvement with the event to a volunteer, GOTR was initially denied CVB earlier this year. In February, the board voted to fund Grilling on the River as quality of life event with $8,000.
“We sat out a year for obvious reasons,” GOTR President Chuck Cook said. “But, it’s been a good thing because we’ve grown through the years. We were worried it would hurt us, but we have a lot of teams and there seems to be a lot of interest in this year’s event. I’m very pleased with the amount of teams we have. The people who compete in this contest take it very seriously.”
With a $30,000 budget, Cook said he was also happy to see the event’s sponsors back on board.
“It’s a tough time for anyone to get sponsors,” Cook said. “But our sponsors fell right back in. The money from the CVB was a true gift — it was great. This event is a high-risk thing for us. We don’t charge admission at the gate. We solely rely on our sponsors and the grant from the CVB.”
Myrick also praised his fellow board members for the partial funding.
“The CVB allowed us to use the money to purchase some aprons and warmers for all of the teams,” Myrick said. “It is something they can take home with them as a reminder of the competition.
Barbecue will not be the only thing to draw patrons to the event. With live music Friday night and Saturday and more than 14 food vendors, event organizers promise to provide something for everyone.
“We have food vendors from all over the South as well as people from right here in Columbus,” Myrick said. “We are going to have a lot of specialty food such as roasted corn, smoked jalapenos, homemade ice cream and funnel cakes. We want to off people something they can’t get at every festival.”
Proceeds from the event will go to the Lowndes County Humane Society.
Grilling on the River 2013
NO GATE ADMISSION
Donations Accepted for the Humane Society
Friday 4:00pm till 11:00pm /
Saturday 9:00am till 6:00pm
No Coolers Please – Bring your lawn chair
Friday, April 12
4:00 PM Gates Open
4:00-4:30pm Cooks Meeting
5:30-6:30pm Sponsors & VIP’s Dinner
7:00-7:30pm Mississippi Products Judging
6:15-7:30pm Music – “Big Joe” Shelton
8:00-11:00pm Music – “Freeway”
11:00 PM Gates Close-Quiet Time
Saturday April, 13
9:00 AM Gates Open
9:00 –10:30 Coca-Cola Kids Que’ing
10:00-2:00pm Ms. Dept. of Transportation – “Convincer”
11:00-1:00pm Music – Taylor Hoch
12:00-2:00pm Official Judging – KCBS “Blind” judging
2:00-4:00pm Music –Wild Magnolias
4:00pm AWARDS PRESENTATION by Doug Moulds
6:00 PM Gates Close
For the Kids: Jump-N-G’s Inflatable — “Mother Goose” — Carnival
Face Painting—Monkey Bounce.0