Somerset Smoke Show will feature 12-grill competition, barbecue shop classes and barbecue tastings by award-winning pitmasters
Backyard rib barbecuers, unite: If you think you have what it takes to win Somerset’s first grill master title, then See Somerset Tourism, ProTrade BBQ Supply & Hardware and Baney’s Bangin’ BBQ want YOU to compete in the community’s first grill-off competition.
The Somerset Smoke Show will take the stage at the 2023 Foodstock Festival April 29 in downtown Somerset, featuring a 12-person rib grilling contest, barbecue shop classes and barbecue tastings by award-winning pitmasters. Contestants will compete against one another for the community’s first-ever grill master title, plus a host of prizes from event sponsors.
The idea is the brainchild of Baney’s Bangin’ BBQ owner Greg Baney Jones and ProTrade BBQ Supply & Hardware owners Luke and Jenn Bates, local entrepreneurs who wanted to use their shared love of grilling and barbecue to bring a unique culinary experience to Somerset.
Jenn Bates said when she and her husband opened ProTrade Hardware in 2020, they had no idea it would morph into a grilling destination. In adding Traeger, Green Egg and Weber grills to their inventory, they developed relationships with customers and grilling enthusiasts — like Jones — who talked with them often about grilling techniques, specialty rubs and sauces and presented ideas for growing the grilling community. The Bateses recently rebranded their shop to become ProTrade BBQ Supply & Hardware because of the success they’ve had in the market.
“There are so many barbecue and grilling enthusiasts we’ve met along this journey that have supported us and we’ve listened to them,” Jenn Bates said. “Being foodies at heart and being able to bring this amazing grilling competition and barbecue experience to our town is something we are very excited and proud of. This is our chance to share the love of barbecue and grilling with our community. No matter what skill level you possess or grilling experience you have, this event will bring us all together to enjoy the love of food and grilling!”
Fellow enthusiast Baney Jones has turned a lifelong passion for making sauces and dry rub for personal cookouts into a small, up-and-coming business in his hometown. After putting in hours of research and receiving encouragement from friends and family, including the Bates family, Jones began manufacturing, packaging and selling Baney’s Bangin’ BBQ Sauce. He now sells his products at ProTrade BBQ Supply & Hardware, Paul’s Discount, Serendipity at the Orange Door, The Mole Hole, Burnetts Farm Produce, and Conley Bottom Resort.
He said having his business affiliated with an event of this kind is an honor.
“If anyone knows me, they know I’ve always loved grilling and smoking meat,” Jones said. “It makes me extremely proud to have made my lifetime dream a reality by serving not only my community, but barbecue enthusiasts across the country with some great-tasting sauces and dry rub. The Somerset Smoke Show will bring people from different areas to our community and give them the opportunity to see how beautiful downtown Somerset is while enjoying some great entertainment, and I am excited my business will be a part of it.”
See Somerset Tourism Director Leslie Ikerd said when Jones and Bates brought the idea to the city for consideration, she knew immediately it was the type of authentic, creative experience that will take Foodstock to the next level.
“Thousands of people visit our downtown every spring to enjoy the best our local and regional food vendors have to offer,” Ikerd said. “With the addition of the Somerset Smoke Show, they will now be able to do so while watching grill masters at work and learning from award-winning pitmasters and professionals. It’s a wonderful way to add value for our festival-goers and continue to shine the spotlight on the amazing food and culinary artists in our region.”
The event will be emceed by Kentucky Food and Recipe Blogger JC Phelps. Professionals from Traeger Pro, Big Green Egg and Weber as well as Kryptonite BBQ award-winning pitmaster Keith Harris will teach free barbecue shop classes on chicken, pork and ribs on Foodstock’s main stage while the competition is taking place.
Phelps has tasted the best of the Commonwealth’s food from Pikeville to Paducah as a Kentucky food writer. But there’s nothing like home, he said.
“… and being from Lake Cumberland, I know that there’s some seriously delicious food here,” Phelps said. “I’m so excited to have been asked to join the event and I look forward to celebrating all things delicious with y’all next year!”
Registration for the grill-off competition opens Jan. 15, 2023, and is limited to the first 12 people to register. There will be four spots available on a Traeger Grill, four spots on a Big Green Egg, and four spots on a Weber Grill.
For their registration fee of $100, contestants will be provided a tent, table, grill, supplies and two racks of ribs. All they have to do is show up and cook the ribs on site, Bates said.
Contestants will submit their ribs at a designated time for judging. An expert panel of judges will be selected to choose Somerset’s first-ever grill master, as well as winners in three other categories: Best Ribs on a Traeger, Best Ribs on a Big Green Egg and Best Ribs on a Weber.
For more information about the Somerset Smoke Show or to register, visit www.protradehardware.com or follow @ProTradeHardware or @baneysbanginBBQ on Facebook. For more information about Foodstock, visit www.seesomerset.com or follow @SeeSomersetKy on Facebook.
Ikerd said details about Foodstock’s food vendors, live art component and music schedule will be released in the coming months.
“We are so excited to be able to announce this addition to Foodstock and begin planning for our 2023 season of festivals,” Ikerd said. “The city’s festivals have helped light up Somerset in ways that we couldn’t even begin to imagine when we started them in 2019. Each festival has a chapter in Somerset’s renaissance story, and the Somerset Smoke Show will no doubt enhance that story in the coming years.”