August 22, 2013 9:48:33 AM
At the 11th edition of Columbus' Roast-n-boast festival last year, Chris Morgan and his South Eastern Cookers grilling team received an award that meant more to him than the prize money that came with others his team won before.
It was the Joe Niles Hospitality Award.
"That probably topped it off for us," Morgan said. "We didn't place or win money, but just to be recognized by other teams that we were there to help them and support them meant a lot to us."
The Friendly City will be the theme for this year's 12th run, which begins Friday and goes through Saturday.
About 45 teams will compete between the Kansas City Barbeque Society's pro and backyard divisions, and $13,000 in prize money is at stake for local and out-of-state teams.
Equally as important is bringing resident and out-of-town barbeque enthusiasts to the Columbus Fairgrounds for the event that will provide fun for the entire family, Roast-n-boast vice president Mike Law said. There will be more than a dozen food and arts and crafts vendors as well as a petting zoo and other children's activities.
A majority of contestants will have samples of their special recipes at a tasting tent, and local bands will perform at the two-day event. Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 each day or $15 for a two-day pass.
"We get people to come into the city of Columbus, stay at our hotels, buy our food and buy our gas. I think it gives us exposure," Law said. "When these guys leave here, if we do it right like we think we do, they come back and they spread the word. This year we have six or seven more teams than we had last year."
Morgan said his favorite part of each year's Roast-n-boast is getting to visit friends and family he normally only sees each year at that event.
"Everybody has a common denominator -- to get together, socialize, cook and have a lot of fun," he said. "Competition is just part of it. It goes back to the event. You watch the fairgrounds change over. You watch these booths go from nothing but dirt, leaves and pine straw to something that's lit up and full of life and people."
For more information visit roastnboast.com.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
1. Local man charged in Holly Hills death COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Council picks 2 CMSD board members COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Drug sting targets Maben, Starkville residents STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY