This weekend, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Division of Parks & Recreation will host its second-annual Boo-B-Que By the Sea.
The event, which will be held on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22 at the Delaware Seashore State Park near the Indian River Inlet, in the south inlet day use and campground areas, will feature a variety of family-friendly activities.
“The Boo-B-Que really started with John Hollis, of Nemours Health & Prevention Services, who wanted to do a barbecue festival in compilation with the annual Sussex Outdoors Summit,” explained Caroline Foltz, enterprise development coordinator for Delaware State Parks.
“Sussex Outdoors is a project based on Community Partnerships to Promote Active Use & the Development of the Built Environment in Delaware. The partnership includes agencies like the Governor’s Office, Delaware State Parks, Sussex County Council, Sussex Child Health Promotion Coalition, Nemours Health & Prevention Services and the majority of the executive branch of Delaware state government.
“Hollis’ goal was to get people outdoors; and what better way to do that than an outdoor barbecue competition? He also saw this as an excellent way to promote the state parks, showcase the beautiful Indian River Marina, and encourage people to visit and value Delaware State Parks.”
A special event fee of $5 per person will be in effect for the festival. In support of Children in Nature, all children 12 or younger will receive free admission. Visitors interested in making a weekend out of the festivities can get a 20 percent discount on RV campsites at Delaware Seashore State Park for the event.
The event will begin Friday evening at 4 p.m., with the People’s Choice Wing Competition running from 5 to 8 p.m.
The competition is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS), a competitive cooking organization and the world’s largest non-profit group of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts.
“Boo-B-Que event planner and owner of ASAP Screen Printing & Embroidery Darrell Meade has worked with Sandy Fulton of Kansas City Barbeque for over 15 years. Darrell refers to Sandy as the ‘Pied Piper’ of barbecue — when she calls, the barbecue competitors come running! Darrell says it was a no-brainer to involve KCBS and Ms. Fulton when John brought up wanting to have a barbecue competition.”
Foltz said the event received a lot of positive feedback after last year’s successful event, with praise from some of the 15 judges from different states.
“We had judges from 15 different states, and some said it was the most beautiful venue they had ever been to,” she said. “The vendors agreed and said that it was the best run, most accommodating competition they’ve ever done.
“The people also loved it. Many people raved about the bridge and ocean backdrop, and said they would be coming back to visit the park throughout the year. In this area, it filled the ticket that people were looking for. The campgrounds at Delaware Seashore State Park are full for this coming weekend, which shows the impact of last year’s festival!
“This year, competitors will be pouring in from all over. As of Monday, Oct. 17, we have 76-plus barbecue competitors, from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York and Connecticut. Many competitors bring their families and friends, which brings a terrific economic impact for Sussex County.”
A number of items are planned for the evening, including a bonfire, social media contest and guided bridge walk. That same evening, children can trick-or-treat from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and attendees can enjoy the Bo Dickerson Band from 5 to 9 p.m.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, festivities will kick off with a 5K run/walk at 9 a.m., with awards presented at 11 a.m.
The Boo-B-Q Festival will begin at noon, featuring music by the Tom Larsen Band from noon to 4 p.m. That day, there will also be a Jeep show (from noon to 4 p.m.), “Kids-Que” Competition at 2:30 p.m., shipwreck storytelling and more.
Perhaps one of the biggest draws will be the live auction for low-digit surf-fishing tags, beginning at 2:30 p.m.
This year, bidders will get the opportunity to try to win surf fishing tag No. 1, along with other select low-digit surf plates. Bidding will open at $250. Foltz said the winning bidder for each tag will receive a certificate of authenticity.
Funds raised from the auction will benefit surf-fishing access and Delaware State Parks, which was awarded the National Gold Medal Award for the best-managed state park system in the country for 2015/2016.
“All revenue generated will directly benefit the operations and maintenance of Delaware State Parks’ 26,000-acre state park system. Many people don’t know that Delaware State Parks is 65 percent self-funded, through user fees (daily entrance, camping, annual permits, surf fishing, programming, etc.), and the surf-tag auction is another innovative way to provide funding to support day-to-day operations.”
Foltz said events like the Boo-B-Que are a great way for Delaware State Parks to reach out to the community.
“Special events are an important part of creating family-fun activates that allow visitors to get outside and enjoy the natural resources,” she said. “The Boo-B-Que is a great example of providing activities for the whole family: trick-or-treating, programs provided by state park interpreters, music from local entertainers, costume competition, great barbecue and local beverages, a unique5K run/walk over the Indian River Inlet Bridge and overnight camping at the park. These types of partnerships are winners for everyone involved.”
“Special events within the state parks are important, because they make people aware of all that these parks have to offer,” added Meade. “I can’t tell you how many people came up to me last year and told me things like they didn’t know the park had a campsite, or didn’t know that the park offered waterfront cottages for overnight accommodations. The event even brought awareness to locals! A lot of people born and raised in the area had no idea the park had been recently remodeled, or hadn’t visited the park in years.”
Foltz said events like the Boo-B-Que would not be possible without the support of sponsors.
“We are thankful for the wonderful support of sponsors and partners like Memphis Wood Fire Grills, Spicer Bros. Construction Inc., Focus Multisports, SoDel Concepts, Giant Foods, Discover Bank, Walgreens and many others!”
“At this family-centered event, there’s something for everyone. Great food, gorgeous scenery (views of the Indian River Bridge!), live music and two days full of fun activities.”
For a full list of activities and times for the two-day event, visit www.boo-bq.com. For more information on the Boo-B-Que Family BBQ Competition and festivities, visit http://www.destateparks.com/boo-bq, or go to http://www.boo-bqrun.com to enter the 5K Run/Walk.
For more information on the low digit surf tag auction, visit http://www.destateparks.com/lowdigittag. Reservations for RV campsites can be made online at http://delawarestateparks.reserveamerica.com or by calling 1-877-987-2757 and using promotional code BBQ2016.
Any organization or business interested in having a special event at one of Delaware State Park’s 16 sites can contact Enterprise Development Coordinator Caroline Foltz at firstname.lastname@example.org.