Battle of the Badges Barbecue Teams Sought for Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

GONZALES – Ascension Festivals and Cultural Council, Inc. announced this week barbecue teams wanting to compete in this year’s Battle of the Badges Barbecue Contest at the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center have until noon on Sept. 21 to sign up.

     Ken Firmin, festival committee member and organizer of the barbecue challenge, said the competition, set for Saturday, Sept. 26, is for teams made up of police officers, firefighters or emergency medical service personnel. Firmin said each team must have only one head cook. He said the head cook must be commissioned full-time in their line of duty.

     The entry fee for the barbecue challenge is $25 per team, payable in advance. To sign up for the competition, please contact Ken Firmin at (225) 933-8960, email kjfirmin@gmail.com, or Martin McConnell at (225) 450-1035, email mmcconnell@apgov.us.

     Firmin said the competition will take place at Barn 6. He said all meats will be provided by the contestants, inspected prior to cooking and cooked onsite. Seasoning and marinating the day before will be allowed.

     Set-up may begin the day before the event after 5 p.m. or by 6 a.m. on Saturday. Fires can begin no earlier than 6 a.m. Saturday.

     Judging categories will include baby back ribs (pork), chicken quarters (poultry) and brisket (beef). Judging will be conducted by blind taste testing only.

     All meat must be turned in for judging at the following times:   Ribs – 2 p.m.,  Chicken – 3 p.m. and  Brisket – 4 p.m.

     Turn-in boxes will be provided. Garnishment will not be included in judging criteria, therefore, will not be necessary.

      Trophies for each category will be awarded along with an Overall Championship Trophy. Announcement of the winners will begin at 5 p.m.

Gates for the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival will open on Friday, Sept. 25 at 4 p.m. and close at 10 p.m. Gates will reopen on Saturday at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m.

More than 30 balloons from across the country are scheduled to participate.

Admission for the festival is $5  for ages 13 and older and free for children 12 and younger on each day. Organizers encourage festival goers to bring their own lawn chairs. Ice chests, pets, bicycles and personal motorized vehicles are prohibited.

     There will be food and drink, carnival rides, a children’s village, live music and more. Fireworks will begin promptly at 8:30 p.m. each night followed by continued live blues music until closing at 10 p.m.

     This year’s event will again have balloon glows and tethered rides pending safe weather conditions.  Balloon officials are reminding all festival goers that windy conditions may warrant suspension of the tethered rides and glows.

     For more information and event scheduling, visit http://www.ascensionballooning.com.