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2017 LAKELANDS MAGAZINE FESTIVAL OF DISCOVERY NOW PART OF PALMETTO BBQ SERIES

By ST. CLAIRE DONAGHY

sdonaghy@indexjournal.com

Six South Carolina Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned events are joining forces to present a barbecue points chase – The Palmetto BBQ Series – including Uptown Greenwood’s own South Carolina Festival of Discovery, July 6-8.

Also in The Palmetto BBQ Series are KCBS events in: Woodruff (Piggin’ in the Park, June 2 and 3), Summerville (Dorchester Shrine Club Smoke on the Shrine Lake and Bluegrass Festival, July 28-29), Myrtle Beach (Beach Boogie and BBQ Festival, Sept. 1 and 2), Laurens (Squealin’ on the Square, Oct. 6 and 7) and Mt. Pleasant (Smoke on the Harbor BBQ Throwdown, Nov. 10 and 11.)

The cash purse for The Palmetto BBQ Series is currently $2,750. The first place winner receives $1,500, second place receives $750 and third place receives $500.

The points chase is a way to support South Carolina competition barbecue, by getting more cook teams to cook at more contests and to help those contests grow. Check out the series Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PalmettoBBQSeries/

Jason Hardee, 40, with Elite BBQ Smokers of Conway is behind the idea of a South Carolina points chase series.

“I made some conference calls with people from other contests and people got on board,” Hardee said. “I would not let it lay. I kept pushing and reminding people.”

Hardee describes it as “an amazing opportunity to showcase the best barbecue chicken, ribs, pork and brisket in the state of South Carolina.”

“Talk about bragging rights,” Hardee said. “The winner of the Palmetto BBQ Series will be the best barbecue competitor in South Carolina in all four meat categories, not just one.”

Hardee, a contractor by trade, said he has been into competitive barbecue since 2010 and got heavily involved in KCBS-sanctioned events within the past year, competing in nearly 20 KCBS competitions, from Georgia to Pennsylvania and places in between.

“KCBS teams compete at a whole other level,” Hardee said. “By having The Palmetto BBQ Series winner be the best four out of six competitions, it will allow room for competition, and room for you to recover, if you bomb at one contest, but compete in all six.

“If all the organizers of these six work together, the events will become better organized, with more teams and possibly more prize money and sponsors,” Hardee added, noting the series could expand, to include more South Carolina KCBS-sanctioned contests.

Hardee said South Carolina is diverse in its barbecue, with four types: heavy tomato-based, mustard-based, vinegar-based and light tomato-based represented in different parts of the state.

“When you consider the economic impact of competition barbecue and related festivals in these towns, it’s amazing what barbecue can do,” Hardee said. “Destination barbecue is a way to see what downtown USA is. Take a day trip to a restaurant or a competition. Get off the interstate and see the lifeblood of the United States.”

Palmetto BBQ Series

Carolyn Wells, executive director and co-founder of Kansas City Barbeque Society, said the addition of The Palmetto BBQ Series “adds another layer to the competition.”

With an end-of-year presentation ceremony, bragging rights and a monetary award attached, Wells said it encourages teams to enter more SC KCBS-sanctioned contests.

“It also encourages more South Carolinians to compete, as a matter of state pride,” Wells said.

Greenwood city manager Charlie Barrineau said The Palmetto BBQ Series is similar to series in neighboring North Carolina and Georgia.

“Realize that a team outside of South Carolina could win,” Barrineau said. “It’s simply the team with the highest score registering for four of the six events.

Lara Hudson, South Carolina Festival of Discovery director and Uptown Greenwood manager, said the Greenwood festival has grown tremendously since it began in 2000, making it one of the top KCBS-sanctioned events in the Southeast.

“We hope the addition of this championship series will allow other KCBS-sanctioned events in our state see the same levels of growth and success we have enjoyed here in Greenwood,” Hudson said.

Jonathan Irick, executive director of Main Street Laurens and Squealin’ on the Square, said that competition began in 2000 also, with just three teams.

“We persevered and made some needed changes, to now being the largest event in Laurens County,” Irick said, noting the event is a fundraiser for Main Street Laurens to continue the revitalization of historic downtown Laurens. “We quickly realized we needed to become sanctioned with KCBS and that helped grow our event into what it is today.”