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Smokin’ barbecue event returns to Artesia

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ARTESIA — In 2012, David and Vickie Grousnick had no idea what their Smokin’ on the Pecos barbecue event would be like. Years later, the co-founders and organizers are getting ready for the big food show, which attracts scores of people each year to the Eddy County Fairgrounds in Artesia.

David Grousnick said this marks the seventh year for the event that is titled Smokin’ on the Pecos New Mexico BBQ Competition and it will take place June 22-24.

“That’s a long title and it’s hard to fit on a business card,” David Grousnick said.

He feels that the event has grown over the years thanks to sponsors and the location. Devon Energy is the title sponsor and this marks their fifth year as title sponsor. Other sponsors have also come on board including HollyFrontier/Navajo Refining.

David Grousnick said they signed up last year as the sponsor of the entertainment stage. “They also help us with other particulars of the event,” he said.

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During the early years, there was only one day of cooking competition and that was on Saturday. Last year, the Grousnicks decided to have two full days and that attracted some of the top barbecue teams from across the nation.

“It’s another way we’ve grown the event,” David Grousnick said.

Not only did some of the top cooks from across the United States make the trek to Artesia, but some of the top food judges did too. This year, judges from nine different states are expected to be on hand.

“It’s really become quite a geographical event for our small town here in Artesia, New Mexico,” David Grousnick said.

Another example of the event’s growth is the overall grand champion, and the winner in the dessert category will be an automatic qualifier for the World Food Championships, which is set for Nov. 6 in Orange Beach, Alabama.

“Whoever is the overall two-day points champion will receive a golden ticket and if they choose to take it and go to the World Food Championships, up to a $1,000 of their traveling expenses will be reimbursed while they are at the event and the entry fee of $300 will also be paid,” David Grousnick said.

The Artesia event is also sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and the Rocky Mountain BBQ Association. David Grousnick said KCBS provides representatives.

“Vicki and I, we just step out of the way and they run the actual competition and the judging and they’re the ones that compile the scores and make sure that everything is done according to the KCBS rules,” David Grousnick said.

For those who may not be professional grillers, there is a chance to enter as well in the backyard barbecue competition, which is for pork and chicken. David Grousnick feels this would be a good chance for family bonding during the event.

“Make a day of it on Saturday (June 23). It’s $25 per entry and again there are cash prizes with that,” David Grousnick said.

In addition to the food, there will be entertainment as well, as the Cody Bryan Band will perform on the opening night of June 22. The country music group has released a new album titled “Here.”

Vicki Grousnick said they will be the opening act for “The Long Run,” which is a band from Colorado who pays tribute to the legendary rock group The Eagles.

“They’re amongst the top Eagles tribute bands in the country,” Vicki Grousnick said.

The following night, the headline band will be The Tejas Brothers from Fort Worth. Vicki Grousnick said talks are still taking place for an opening act.

“(It) should be two great nights of concerts,” she said.

Along with the food and entertainment, there will also be an art, craft and trade show. Unlike past shows, Vicki Grousnick said this year’s show will be scaled back a bit and will feature items that are related to cooking.

“If they carry a special line of rubs or a grill or smoker or barbecue accessories, those are the kind of trade vendors that we’re looking for participation (for) this year,” she said.

More information on this year’s event may be obtained by going to smokinonthepecos.com.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.

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