By CATHERINE ELLERTON
Moapa Valley Progress
The advertisements read Logandale Fall Festival – BBQ Cookoff – Bluegrass Festival, Craft Show and Kid Zone. But there was even more! It was three days of eating, music, BBQ aroma, piglets squealing, bouncy houses and slides hosting laughing children and friends visiting and enjoying the great out-of-doors. And everywhere you went were the pleasant sounds of Bluegrass Music.
As the Festival opened on Friday morning, joyous laughter drew one to the Bluegrass Stage where members of the Red Sands Bluegrass Band and the Fertile Dirt Band were entertaining the first grade class of the Grant M. Bowler Elementary School. The children had been encouraged to be part of the song “Old McDonald Had A Farm.” In addition, they had the chance to become part of the band by playing a washboard vest, beating on a saw and clicking spoons.
As the music continued one could wander through the many vendors in the Fine Arts Building and along Vendor Way. Rocks and gems, clothing, jewelry, paintings, wood working, and more.
I talked with Mike of Country Creations, who as a retired teacher, retired police officer and a cancer survivor, had taken up woodworking.
Across the aisle was the Whispering Winds booth of Valerie Goldtooth of the Navajo Nation. She explained the many stones that were woven into the Dream Catchers: Cedar beads offered protection from Evil Spirits; Obsidian takes away negative energy; Turquoise offers success and a figure of a bear offers courage and strength.
The New South Fork Band was on the stage. They announced they were going to perform “Katy’s Waltz” a song written for a lady who was in the audience – sitting next to me: Emily Frank!
Frank is a member of Old Blue Sound – a company from Grand Junction, Colorado that provided sound for the festival. The company is well known at Bluegrass Festivals for setting up the most successful system for each group. Some time ago, Emily had asked New South Fork Band to write a waltz which resulted in the song that was being performed.
I began to wander again – this time to the 4-H Area. Here I found the many animal projects of 4-H members including chickens, goats, sheep, horses and cows.
It was here I ran into Little Miss 4-H of NE Clark County, Anita McClean of Logandale. The 4-H Cloverbuds of the area had to write a speech and present it. There were four from this area that were successful and became Little Miss or Mr. 4-H. In addition to McClean, these included Rylan Sproul, Kari Anne Wade, Duke Houston.
Young Iain McMurray was available to answer questions of the inquisitive. He explained the Mama pig and her piglets found in that area. It turned out that she was a mix of Yorkshire and ‘Blue Butt,’ and that is why her offspring had the spots on their behinds.
Speaking of pigs, it was time to check out the BBQ contest. Here there were 18 teams smoking up the best in savory barbecue for the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) sanctioned state championship contest. At stake was a total of $5,250 in prize money.
Tensions were pretty high round about noon on Saturday as each team was putting its finishing touches on their four different meat entries. Each meat category had its own winners. In the Pork Ribs category the top team was Big Poppa Smokers, which was also the number one team in the Beef Brisket category. The Triple ROC BBQ team won first place in the Pork category. And for smoking up the best Chicken the Luney-Q BBQ won first prize.
The overall winners had Big Poppa Smokers as the Grand Champion team. In second place was Vegas Grillbillies. Bad Boyz BBQ team came in third place.
Later in the afternoon, the People’s Choice contest began, allowing the crowd to taste some of the products of all of this work. Festival-goers then vote for their favorite bbq of the day.
Out of curiosity I talked with a couple of the participants to see exactly what their ‘secret’ was.
Richard Bernal and Mel Norton of ‘Bad Boyz BBQ’ stated they had been cooking for five years. They had watched BBQ Pit Masters on TV and that lit the fire within them. The ‘Bad Boyz’ were from Surprise, Arizona, and traveled all over to compete in Cookoffs. This was their first time in Logandale.
Next in line were Nancy Haas and Mike Rice of ‘Knife, Pork and Spoon BBQ.’ They are from Chandler, Arizona, and had been cooking since 2011. The “Knife, Pork and Spoon BBQ” team ended up being named as the People’s Choice for 2017.
The money raised by the People’s Choice contest went to benefit the Moapa Valley High School FCCLA culinary foods program. Many of the BBQ winners also donated their winnings to this group.
I headed back to the stage area. Marty Warburton and Home Girls were on the stage. These three ladies sing acapella beautifully which was demonstrated in “No Place Like Home” and “I’m Ready, How About You?” Definitely joined the list of ‘Wanna Hear Agains’ for the next day.
Did I mention the food? It is a good idea to eat continuously from the many food vendors – Sweet Dixie Southern BBQ, My Favorite Things Meat Co., Great Basin Cooking, Old Fashioned Soda and more. I was mid-Pig Tails devouring when the band, Bluegrass Etc. took off with their spectacular instrumentals on stage and all else was forgotten.
Another crowd favorite band was festival headliner The Vintage Martins. The two band regulars Eric Uglum and Bud Bierhaus were joined at the festival by Ron Block, who is well known for, among other things, playing with Alison Kraus and Union Station.
The bluegrass music portion of the festival was also a featured part of the Moapa Valley Performing Arts Council’s season line-up. With the Arts Council being a sponsor of the performances, all season ticket holders for the Arts Council season received tickets to the Festival this year to hear the music.