GLENDALE SPRINGS — After two days of grilling, smoking and slow-cooking, the inaugural Blue Ridge BBQ & Brew Festival came to a close on Saturday, Aug. 31, with competitors traveling from across the state to take part in the state’s official barbecue championship.

For the two-day competition, Twisted Pair BBQ took first place out of 24 teams in the barbecue cook-off on Saturday, and McAdoo Heights BBQ secured first place in Friday’s steak cook-off.

“It’s our first grand championship,” George DeMartz, pitmaster for Twisted Pair BBQ, said. Based out of Raleigh, DeMartz said that professional barbecue cooking was a passionate hobby of his. Out of the four competitions his team has participated in, he said it meant a lot for his team to take first place.

“What we try is consistency,” Stephen Gentzler, assistant pitmaster for Twisted Pair BBQ, said. “It all came together today.”

The competition, hosted by Blue Ridge Theater & Events Center and proclaimed by Gov. Roy Cooper as the official N.C. State Barbecue Championship, took place Friday, Aug. 30, and Saturday, Aug. 31. Formally hosted in Polk County, the event took almost a year to plan. Blue Ridge Theater & Events Center Owner Steven Mochen said he was pleased with how it turned out.

“It went beautifully,” Mochen said.

For the first day of the competition, the Steak Cookoff Association oversaw the competitive cooking of steaks, followed by the barbecue cook-off on Saturday, overseen by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

“We had a good weekend,” Sean Sewell, of McAdoo Heights BBQ, said. His team placed first overall in the steak cook-off and second overall in the barbecue cook-off. “We’re really happy for George.”

Also on Saturday, a number of breweries, cideries and distilleries from across the state had tents set up, offering festivalgoers a sample of some of their featured ales, lagers, ciders and spirits. From Foothills Brewing, based out of Winston-Salem, to Molley Chomper Cidery in Lansing, options were seemingly endless for those looking to familiarize themselves with new brews.

Representing Ashe County along with Molley Chomper was New River Brewing, debuting its “Beer the Reaper” brew, which blends a concoction of sweet and spicy ingredients with Carolina Reaper peppers grown by Killian himself.

“The turnout has been amazing,” Adam Hershner, of New River Brewing, said. During the event, Hershner offered samples of the new brew for festivalgoers, and said it will soon be appearing on the menu of New River Brewing Taproom & Eatery.

Competition barbecuer James Killian, who spearheaded the event, said he was proud of how it all came together, and added that it was one of the most successful events Ashe County has ever experienced.

Sponsors for the two-day event included Boondocks Brewing, Doby’s Plumbing and Well Drilling, AEV, Ingles, Holiday Inn Express, Associated Brands, Jefferson Rent-All, Mastercraft Log Homes, First Citizens Bank, Antiques on Main, Guardian Insurance Agency, Sheets Brothers, CarQuest, Lowe’s, Miller Insurance, Dr. Pepper Bottling Company, Vannoy Construction, Jefferson Landing, Cross Roads Harley, New River Inn and Cabins, Barr’s Fiddle Shop, Smoky Mountain Barbeque, Scott Brothers Heating and Air, Mountain Kubota and Walmart.

Other sponsors included Reeves Divenere Wright, Ameriprise Financial, Glenn’s Car Care, Enchanted Farm Antiques, Hole Lotta Doughnuts, Hardee’s, Valencia’s Graphics, Parson’s Farms, Weaver’s Equipment and Days Inn.

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