Danville, Ky — What started as a weekend motorcycle trip through the beautiful Kentucky countryside, turned into a discovery of one of the coolest festivals I have ever been to.
The Kentucky State BBQ Festival, in Danville Kentucky.
The Danville event looked like an interesting place to go and who doesn’t love good BBQ? And this festival featured the rock stars of the BBQ world, so, you know, somebody’s got to do it!
As a “foodie” myself, just the opportunity to meet Moe Cason and the legendary Mike Mills was enough for me, but seeing our Nashville friends, Peg Leg Porker was a real treat. Learn more about this year’s Pitmasters here.
Mike Mills and his daughter Amy put on a whole hog demonstration and I have NEVER seen such a “fine swine” in all my life. And delicious? Are you kidding me? Just simply the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time!
Now, with all this fabulous food, what could be better? Well, how about the people of Danville. What a friendly community. The home to Centre College , a small, independent and selective educational community dedicated to study in the liberal arts. Danville calls itself a “city of firsts” and has a population of just over 17,000.
The Kentucky State BBQ Festival was the brainchild of local real estate agents, Brad and Cindy Simmons. According to Cindy, “Brad and I were just having a glass of wine on our deck when he mentioned this idea, and one thing led to another and here we are.”
Brad said, “My vision was to have a family friendly festival, where the food was the main event.” “I wanted some of the greatest pitmasters on the circuit so I thought, why not see if they would come, and they’ve been here since day one.” “These pitmasters LOVE the people of Danville, and look forward to this event each year” said Simmons.
Typically, BBQ competitions are just that. Competition. The pitmasters are looking to impress a panel of judges for trophy’s and cash prizes, but this festival is for food lovers who want to actually EAT the food made by the best in the business.
One of the discovery’s I made here was the “BBQ Float.” A layered serving of baked beans, cole slaw, and pulled pork, topped with pickles.
When I first saw one, I actually thought it was an ice cream float, but on closer inspection, I noticed one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. As much as I wanted to try one, I knew if I did, I would end up in a “food coma” and I still had miles to go on the bike.
Next year, I’m booking a room and planning on a barbecue overload.
This year, the festival moved from downtown Danville, to the Wilderness Trail Distillery which offered an opportunity for growth. The first year of the event drew 15,000 fans and now consistently draws over 30,000 people per year. Now in it’s seventh year, the festival benefits the Heart of Kentucky United Way and has raised over $135,000. Learn more about Wilderness Trail Distillery here.
“Danville has been good to us, and this festival is one way we can give back to our community” said Cindy Simmons. “Our Lucky Dog BBQ turned into a real passion for us, and we think we have the best brisket in the country.”
I can personally testify to the brisket. A-MAZ-ING!
I can tell you that it’s an incredibly friendly event. I chatted with several vendors, and people attending the festival, and they were more than willing to talk about their reasons for being here. Just seeing the parents watching their children enjoying the kids zone was a joy. I also met a group of bikers who had traveled from South Dakota to attend the event. It’s definitely a destination event, especially if bikers want great roads to travel.
When I arrived, (totally unannounced) I was greeted by Myrna Miller of the Kentucky State BBQ Festival Foundation, and Emily Toadvine of Wilderness Trail. If you want to get a feel for the passion and energy that goes into this event, just spend a few minutes with Myrna.
“I look forward to this every year” she said. “This is a family friendly event centered around some of the most amazing food you will ever eat, and without the volunteers, we couldn’t do something this fantastic” said Miller. “I just love working on this event.” The festival depends on 200-300 volunteers per year.
Jennifer Kirchner, of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau said the economic impact of the festival is great for Danville.
“I’ve been involved since my husband and I moved here, and I can tell you that this festival is a real jewel in the crown for Kentucky AND more importantly, the city of Danville.”
As I continue my journey on this motorcycle, I’m thrilled at the opportunity to travel this great country and meet some of the finest people along the way. Getting to see parts of the country I would NEVER see from the interstate is what having a motorcycle is all about. I can just “google and go” and discover great music, great food, wonderful people and amazing roads to tide.
Make sure that when you plan your 2018 trips, put the Kentucky State BBQ Festival on your calendar. The roads are amazing, the people are friendly, and the food is OFF THE CHARTS!
Thank you Danville Kentucky! See you next year!