THE DIGITAL DEVIL
A Festival of Bar-B-QFriday, April 29, 2011 By Tyler Embry
Citizens of Owensboro, do you wear the Bar-B-Que Fest as a badge of pride, or a dunce cap? Is it sad that the biggest event of the year in Kentucky's (recently demoted to) 4th largest city consists of consuming mass amounts of dead, roasted flesh marinated with thousands of gallons of BBQ sauce, or is it simply "a cool Owensboro thing?" Each year, Owensboroans and tourists, alike prove it to be the latter. The Owensboro BBQ Fest has risen to national prominence as sacred grounds for good food, decent music, and great times. Owensboro's riverfront is submerged in some kind of special atmosphere when the smell of the burgoo contest, the joyful aura surrounding the carnival rides, and the thriving music scene all coalesce. It's that one-of-a-kind feeling folks get in the midst of the festival that most would agree really draws in the masses. Sophomore James Egbert says, “People go because it’s a fun place to hang out with your friends and family.” However wholesome and fun the BBQ fest may seem, it's certainly gained a reputation over the years for housing alcohol induced brawls, pandemonium, and widespread stupidity. Unfortunately, teenagers often see the spring festival as a way to cut loose and break parental rules and even the law. This is especially true in those situations involving alcohol and/or drugs. As teens consume mass amounts of alcohol or other inventive brands of illegal paraphernalia, pent-up hormonal angst is unleashed on the Owensboro riverfront, proving to be disastrously destructive. The number of young adults authorities regularly detain increases by an outrageous 20% the entire BBQ Fest weekend. OPD's Officer Dan Johnson says "There's not a lot for teens and adolescents to do around here, so they (unfortunately) use the festival as a chance to 'go crazy.' This means many officers have to work harder than usual." No matter what trouble young Owensboroans get themselves into, one can't speak of the BBQ Fest without at least mentioning the foody aspect of it all. For many great Owensboro BBQ chefs, presenting their BBQ concoctions to their fellow citizens or a panel of judges is a rewarding feeling in itself. Gary Aud, a competitor in the burgoo contest on behalf of St. Joseph and Paul Catholic Church said, "Even though it's just a bunch of churches making burgoo, the competition can get crazy-tense. You wouldn't believe it." OHS is aflame with festival chatter. "I love the ribs. Every year, I gotta have ribs," says Junior Robert Goatee. Jay Calhoun, Junior, says, "I'm not too into the whole BBQ thing, but I love hanging out with my friends and just walking around down there." This year, the riverfront is under heavy construction and isn't projected to be completed until next year. However, the BBQ fest is a staple of Owensboro tradition and thus, is still being held this year. The festival begins Friday, May 13th and comes to a conclusion that Saturday night. You can find more information including schedules, activities, and an extensive history of the festival at www.bbqfest.com. Can you wait to sink your teeth into a nice mutton sandwich?