Pork and Hops Challenge returns to Grand Junction
WHAT: Eighth annual Pork and Hops Challenge
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12-13
WHERE: Lincoln Park, Grand Junction
COST: $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday, $30 for both days, $20 for the People’s Choice tasting which includes entrance to festival
Grand Junction’s eighth annual Pork and Hops Challenge isn’t Dave Herek’s first rodeo so to speak. Herek, who owns Volleys — a local barbecue eatery at 1130 N. Third St., Grand Junction — has competed in food competitions across the Midwest for a decade. The Pork and Hops Challenge, which is a state championship competition, is set for Lincoln Park in Grand Junction on Saturday, Sept. 12-13.
According to Herek, he uses a smoker to create barbecue masterpieces, including chicken, pork and beef. He’ll be one of more than 40 professional cooking teams preparing meat in hopes of being crowned state champions and advancing to Kansas City Barbecue Society’s national competition. Pork and Hops teams will also compete for $20,000 in cash prizes.
“I hope to just have fun and meet new people from the area,” Herek said.
Tickets cost $15 for Friday’s events, $20 for Saturday’s events or $30 for both days. Proceeds will benefit United Way of Mesa County.
The event kicks off Friday, Sept. 12, at 5 p.m. with musical performances by Stray Grass, The Williams Brothers Band and Jo Dee Messina. Messina is currently on tour promoting her new country album, “Me.”
“My husband is trying to figure out how to stay a few extra days to fly fish,” she added.
Vendors at the festival include arts and crafts, desserts and more.
Brews will be flowing from Budweiser, including Bud Light, Shock Top and Odell Brewing Company.
Gates will open again at noon on Saturday, Sept. 13. Music starts at 12:30 p.m. and includes Desert Flyer Band, Goodman Band, Lever Action, Exit 42, Logan Brill and Charlie Worsham.
People’s Choice Tasting is also on Saturday, allowing attendees to try 10 two-ounce samplings from professional team competitions. The People’s Choice tasting tickets are limited to around 1,000 and cost $20, which allows access to the festival as well.
“I suggest attendees to go and visit with the teams to talk about the different strategies of how they cook the meat,” Pork and Hops event coordinator Larry Manchester said.
When tasting samples, Herek recommends that folks pay attention to meat tenderness and smoky flavor; if the smoky flavor isn’t over powering, it’s a success.
For more information, visit http://www.porkandhops.com.
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