Valley Fourth’s Newest Addition: Grillin’ at the Pavilion

Grillin' Logo

Meat, beer, and music. These are—in no particular order—three of my favorite things, so naturally I’m pretty excited to be a guest judge for the first annual Grillin’ at the Pavilion Cook-Off on July 4th.

Lucky for me, these three things—meat, beer, and music–are happening simultaneously as part of the very fun Valley Fourth celebration downtown. Grillin’ at the Pavilion calls for all you fantastic backyard chefs to fire up your best rib eye steaks, chicken wings, and pork ribs. Sizzling grills, smoke, and the smell of flame-kissed meat will have the rest of us drooling into our craft beers and wine while tapping our toes to the Hackensaw Boys and, my new favorite with their clever bluegrass covers of 80’s songs, Love Canon.

I’m not sure I could imagine a much more perfect scenario for a summer evening.

Love Canon performs at the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival 2013. Photo by Brandy Somers for

Love Canon performs to a full crowd at the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival 2013. Photo by Brandy Somers for

As an official judge, I’ll have to taste all of the entries. (Tough job, I know, and I’ll definitely be signing up for this to ease the guilt.) But the first 200 people in the gate will be able to buy a sampling ticket and take part in voting for the People’s Choice winner, so get there early! Cash prizes will be awarded for each individual category, with a $1,000 grand prize.

Teams must be entered by June 1 and an entry form can be downloaded here. To give winners even more bragging rights, this is an official Mid Atlantic Barbecue Association event.

If you miss out on a sampling ticket, there are still plenty of options to chow down in downtown Harrisonburg. Lots of local food vendors will be stationed around Court Square. Rocktown Bites Food Tours are back for the summer and are doing a special “Summer in America” tour beginning at 2 pm. And of course the plethora of excellent downtown restaurants will be happy to welcome you in all day long.

I know my kids will look forward to the fireworks that always wrap up a perfect July 4th celebration, but for me, my favorite fireworks will have been earlier in the day. Coals sparking, curls of smoke swirling in the sky, spicy rubs lighting up my taste buds, and crackling fat over the flames…oh, yeah, it’s going to be a good day.

Kirsten Parmer is a food writer for the Staunton News Leader and the owner of Taste. A Food Company.


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