If you go …
What: Colorado State BBQ Championships and Moffat County Balloon Festival
When: Aug. 3 to 5
Where: Loudy-Simpson Park
— The dual event, which opens to the public at noon Aug. 3, will feature competitive cooking from barbecue vendors, hot air balloon launches, flight-themed activities, live music and more. The barbecue portion of the weekend is subject to fire conditions, and the balloon festival is dependent on favorable wind conditions. For more information, visit www.craigbbq.com or www.mcballonfesti...
Organizers of the Colorado State BBQ Championships recently received a tentative permit from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office to host their event as planned.
Now in its third year in Craig, the BBQ Championships are scheduled to run in conjunction with the Moffat County Balloon Festival Aug. 3 to 5 at Loudy-Simpson Park.
However before the grilling begins, organizers will need to follow through on safety conditions.
The area used for the championships must be supervised by experienced fire personnel, and firefighters will wet down the ground with water from an on-site truck every few hours to prevent stray embers from open flame grills catching the grass on fire.
Even with these precautions, should fire conditions worsen or an unexpected fire pop up elsewhere, the championships will have to shut down operations as required by the fire ban signed into effect by the Moffat County Commission in late June.
Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said event sponsor The Memorial Hospital in Craig has worked hard to “pre-plan” for the worst.
“They have a lot invested in it, and they understand that they can have the permit pulled, and they’re willing to take the risk,” Jantz said. “They’ve complied with all the parts to the permit, and so far so good.”
Jantz said he hopes to see the championships pull through without any problems, though he can’t make an exception should anything happen at the last minute.
“It’s out of my control because we’re trying to meet the public’s concerns for safety,” he said. “We’re all working together to make sure we meet all those safety protocols.”
Jantz added that the propane used by hot air balloonists for the balloon festival is not subject to the fire ban because it is not considered open flame.
Jennifer Riley, TMH chief of organizational excellence, said she is looking forward to the event, especially with the extra effort the hospital has invested in it this year. She expects a crowd between 1,500 and 2,000 people for the combined events.
There are 30 cookers scheduled to compete and 12 balloons scheduled to fly.
“People have put in a lot of time, money and resources coming to this event, so we wouldn’t want to cancel at the last minute if we didn’t have to,” she said.
Riley said combining activities with the balloon festival last year paid off, with cookers complimenting the move from Wyman Museum to Loudy-Simpson.
“They liked being in the grass instead of just dirt, and they liked the shade and facilities,” she said.
Riley said moving the event is no longer an option because of all the plans already made and the difficulty of finding an area big enough.
“We couldn’t do it at the fairgrounds because there’s no room with everything going on there, and Wyman’s didn’t work for the balloon festival because of the wind patterns,” she said. “With embers, there’s always the question of them blowing around no matter where you are, so let’s hope there’s no heavy winds.”
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