Smokin' the Fort adds new categories

Smoke billows from a barbecue booth at the 2018 Smokin' the Fort. Audra Brister, right, joined people waiting to be served.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Move over barbecue. This year's Smokin' the Fort will offer all sorts of food.

"We're going to add chili to the contest," said Jessica Fowler, Fort Gibson Chamber of Commerce executive director. "We have another category called 'Surprise us.' In that category, you can basically do anything."

Festivities begin Friday with a cornhole tournament at 5 p.m. downtown. Entries are $10 for a two-person team aged 13 and older or $5 for a two-person team 12 and younger. Live music, starting at 7 p.m., includes Barrett Vanlandingham & Friends, the Full House Band, Billy Arnett and Boone Mendenhall.

Saturday, downtown Fort Gibson will be smoking with barbecue, chili and culinary surprises.

"We'll see a lot of food and a lot of fun," Fowler said.

Taster kits will go on sale at 10 a.m. and will cost $10, including a beverage.

She said the barbecue festival no longer is part of the Kansas City Barbeque Society, which had specific rules on how barbecue is cooked and how it is served.

Smokin' the Fort adds new categories

Kathy Hemphill of Cherokee Casino Fort Gibson, left, dishes up barbecue for Thomas Spencer of Muskogee at the 2018 Smokin' the Fort. This year's Smokin' the Fort will offer more than barbecue.

"So everybody that's competing will be serving," Fowler said.

Barbecue contestants vie for a $1,000 Grand Prize or a $700 Grand Reserve prize by entering all four categories: Chicken, ribs, pork and brisket.

Winners of the Surprise Us and chili contests win $100 each and wooden trophy spoons. Second place winners get $75 each and wooden trophy spoons.

The Surprise Us category is open to any type of food, she said.

"We have a lady who's going to enter her jelly," Fowler said. "You can do breads. Anything you think is edible can be entered into that category."

Smokin' the Fort adds new categories

Kathy Hemphill of Cherokee Casino Fort Gibson, left, dishes up barbecue for Thomas Spencer of Muskogee at the 2018 Smokin' the Fort. This year's Smokin' the Fort will offer more than barbecue.

A Junior Cue Master contest will be open for ages 11-15 and 10 and younger.

Fowler said the variety of foods this year has generated interest. She said she received 20 entries by Monday.

"Twenty is a good start for the week before," she said.

Live music from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. includes the Green Butter Band, J.J. Baldwin and Casey West, Rappe & Vanderveer.

Other Saturday festivities include a poker run, beginning 9 a.m. at Fort Gibson Historic Site. 

"We're going to start at the fort, go up around through Hulbert, to Tahlequah, to Keys, down Indian Road to Braggs and back to Fort Gibson," Fowler said. "They go to each one of the stops. The best hand will win, and the worst hand will win money, also."

Entries are $20 per vehicle, plus $5 per rider.

Proceeds benefit the Fort Gibson Shop with a Cop program.

People also can engage in some axe throwing, sponsored by Muskogee's axe-throwing venue, the Rak. Muskogee Brewing Co. will sell beer.

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