Cue the Smoke

Cue the Smoke: Spruce Pine gets saucy with a barbecue and bluegrass festival
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Everyone knows North Carolina is “First in Flight,” but there are some who believe it’s also the “Cradle of ’Cue.” All across the state, tradition calls for pork, not beef; but travel east to west and the pungent vinegar-based sauce of coastal Carolina gives way to the tomato-infused, slightly sweet version favored in the mountains. Fortunately, barbecue fans of all loyalties are in for a treat when Spruce Pine hosts its first BBQ Championship and Bluegrass Festival, July 20 and 21.

Event Coordinator Randall Hembree credits the town’s mild temperatures as the impetus for this mid-summer event where fire and heat take center stage. Friday evening features a chicken wing competition, when festivalgoers can pay $10 to sample and vote for their favorites. A panel of celebrity judges will cast votes in a blind tasting and the combined scores decide the winner. Saturday features the pork butt and rib cook-off. This time the voting is left to judges, with championship awards and $5,000 in prizes. Sandwiches, barbecue plates, and bulk pork will be available, along with traditional sides like coleslaw and baked beans. Bluegrass is the musical accompaniment, with Balsam Range headlining Friday night. Attendees can also enjoy clogging performances and numerous arts and craft displays while savoring the slow-roasted goodness offered by inspired ’cue masters.              

Smokin’ Hot
Spruce Pine BBQ Championship
& Bluegrass Festival
July 20 & 21; $4, $10 to vote in the chicken wing contest
(828) 385-1125


Photograph Courtesy of Balsam Range