Rated Harford County's "Best Event" by Harford Magazine for three years in a row, the MD State BBQ Bash returns to Bel Air next weekend.
The bash runs Friday, Aug. 14, 4 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 15, noon to 10 p.m., in the parking lot of the Mary Risteau State Office building, at the corner of Bond and Thomas streets.
The MD State BBQ Bash is a barbecue-themed street festival featuring the Maryland State BBQ Championship, with more than 50 teams from the Mid-Atlantic area and beyond competing for $12,500 in cash prizes and the chance to compete in the annual Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn., and The American Royal in Kansas City, Mo.
In addition, more than 40 amateur teams will compete in the MD State BBQ Bash Tailgate Challenge to see who has the best ribs while competing for cash, prizes and bragging rights.
Playing live music on Friday will be Jake & the Burtones, 4 to 6 p.m.; Walk-Ins Welcome, 6 to 8 p.m.; and The Cadillac Three, 8 to 10 p.m.
On Saturday, the music lineup includes Muddy Creek Railroad, 2 to 4 p.m.; Liz Cooper & the Stampede, 5 to 7 p.m.; and Jr. Cline & the Recliners, 8 to 10 p.m.
Craig Ward, the bash's founder and Bel Air Downtown Alliance board president, and Bob Mumby said they have worked to upgrade the musical offerings at this year's event. The two are also partners in a local music promotion group, Slate Ridge Productions.
Mumby said Cooper is a graduate of Fallston High, where she was known as Liz Silbernagle – Cooper is her middle name.
"She went to Nashville to get into the music business, and we think she will be very well received at the BBQ Bash," he said.
"Bel Air girl debuts her Nashville band in her hometown! Should be very cool," Ward said in a email.
The MD State BBQ Bash is free for the public – including the musical acts – and has regularly drawn more than 25,000 attendees over the two days.
The MD State BBQ Bash sponsored by the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Main Street Maryland organization dedicated to creating a vibrant business community and visitor friendly destination in Downtown Bel Air. This event is the largest fundraising effort for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance and 100 percent of the proceeds benefits the mission and is reinvested locally.
Visit Harford! is joining the 2015 MD State BBQ Bash as the title sponsor.
"Visit Harford is excited to step up and support the Bash. It is definitely a county asset, and a great time, and that is what we are all about; supporting the things that work for our county," Patricia Parker, president of Visit Harford!, said in a statement.
As the title sponsor for the Tailgate Challenge awards, Visit Harford! will present the first- through fifth-place awards for the Tailgate Challenge and the Grand Champion (first place) and Reserve Champion (second place) for the official Kansas City Barbecue Society/Maryland State BBQ Championship Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Awards.
"We are very excited to have Visit Harford! as our title sponsor this year and are honored that the BBQ Bash was chosen as one of their break-out vehicles as they launch the new private tourism office here in Harford County," Ward said. "We hope that this will be a long-time partnership with Visit Harford! and that we can contribute to the combined success of tourism here in Harford County."