Some of BBQ’s top pit masters will be in the Inland Empire town of Norco from May 29 through May 31, 2015, when Norco hosts the Horse Town Brew n’ Que Festival. Debbie Yopp, coordinating the event, talked about it and the special guests that will be appearing at the three-day event. Myron Mixon, celebrity chef, championship pitmaster, author and judge/star of TV’s “BBQ Pitmasters”, will be the special guest at Friday night’s “VIP Meat and Greet” along with multiple championship winner Big Moe Cason. “We’re bringing Myron Mixon here for this event”, Debbie said. “People don’t realize what kind of a challenge this is, to get someone whose schedule is so busy, he’s got so many competitions, two television shows, numerous restaurants and a business to operate.To get him to come here for one day, that was a feat, so we want to make sure we welcome him and greet him with that Southern hospitality, and when I mean Southern, I mean Southern California hospitality!”
Debbie continued, “Myron is going to be kicking off the event at a VIP “Meat and Greet”, and I mean m-e-a-t and greet reception. He’ll kick it off, answer questions, he’ll talk about his experience, his tricks of the trade and his anecdotes, just his good old ‘Myron’ way of talking and expressing himself. Plus, it’s an opportunity for barbecue teams that would never, ever get an opportunity to meet him, just because of the distance and the schedules, for them to connect. Also, it is a chance for the public, the people who will participate in that VIP Reception, to meet him. That’s his role, to kick this whole thing off. He will be taking photographs and giving autographs”. The “Meat and Greet” will also be an excellent opportunity for guests to taste a wide variety of barbequed delights especially catered for the occasion.
Norco, also known as ‘Horse Town USA’ and less than an hour’s drive from most of Los Angeles and Orange County, is an ideal place for the three-day festival. Debbie explained, “Norco is a very small community of about 25,000 residents. Its Charter includes that it is an ‘Animal Friendly Community’. There aren’t any sidewalks here, you can basically just ride your horse, there are over one hundred miles of trails in the community. The city trademarked the name, ‘Horse Town’. It is a registered trademark. There are actually more horses than people in the city!”. She added, “the event is being held at the George Ingalls Equestrian Event Center, which is humongous! There over two acres of covered stadium”. Barbecue is certainly a natural fit for a nice country atmosphere like Norco.
The other big star at the festival will be Big Moe Cason who is traveling in for the event from his home state of Iowa, where he presides over his own catering company, Ponderosa Barbecue, when he isn’t traveling on the championship circuit. Debbie said, “Big Moe Cason is going to be difficult to beat, but I am confident that we have some really outstanding teams here in Southern California and Northern California. While you hear about the South, you hear about Texas barbecue, you hear about Kansas City barbecue, you hear about Carolina ‘que and Georgia ‘cue, but the reality is, there are many teams in California that are ranked in the Top 100 in the country. People don’t think of California as a threat, but the West Coast has some very formidable teams here. Big Moe is going to face some serious, stiff competition—-very stiff competition! Barbecue is Big Moe’s life and he understands that. He’s a very approachable and a very knowledgable person . He really believes in barbecue. This is a way of life, it’s not just a weekend gig for him. That’s the ultimate thing in your life. If you work at something you love, it doesn’t get any better than that”.
The event is a fully sanctioned cook off under the rules of the Kansas City Barbecue Society and the California BBQ Association. Debbie elaborated on it by saying, “We are following the Kansas City BBQ Society rules for sanctioning this competition. This event is being sanctioned by KCBS, which is the largest organization dedicated to preserving and promoting barbecue in the world.We are following the four categories, which are chicken, pork ribs, pork butt and beef brisket”. Personally, Debbie does have her favorite barbequed meat. She said, “I’m a pork-ribber. I like the St. Louis cuts. I like them to the point where you bite into the rib and it leaves nice teeth marks when you pull out. I don’t want them falling off the bone. That’s overcooked to me. And if they know what they’re doing, you don’t need sauce! If you smoke them right and rub them down right, you can eat a good rib without sauce, but I can go either way”.
The other specialty that will be featured at the Brew and Que Festival is of course, beer. “We expect there to be between 25 and 30 breweries at the event. You can buy a beer sampling ticket for $25.00 and that will give you 10 samples. I would actually recommend purchasing that now, that way you can save $10.00 by saving the money that you would spend to get into the event and then to buy the sampling ticket. It’s better to buy it now, Debbie said. “There are some craft brewers that are creating a specific beer for this occasion that will complement barbecue. Some of the brewers are taking up to ten weeks to prepare beer for this event. We have Sons of Liberty, which is in Norco, Stone Brewery, Hangar 24, Aftershock, Rebellion, Green Valley, Coachella are just some that I can think of off the top of my head. A good mix of brewers and great beer. The beer is going to be exceptional. Normally when they sample beer they give 1 or 2 ounces, in our case we’ll be giving 4 ounces. That’s a pretty generous sample. We’re planning on making sure that you can really appreciate what you’re drinking”.
The three day event will be a great reason to get out of town for a long weekend, although since the festival has different events, guests may want to pick and choose which days to attend. And if you want to bring your four-legged friends, Debbie added, “Of course there will be horse parking! This is Norco, if you have a horse you will have a place to hitch!”. Debbie explained what is going on all three days. “Day one is the kickoff reception. It is an opportunity for the public to purchase a limited amount of tickets and actually get up close and personal with some major television personalities. We are offering a little bit of an upscale meal in that Snake River Farms is providing the meat for that kickoff event. I’m working with theChef Lee Van On and the Arts Institute in the preparation of it, so it will be a culinary delight”.
She continued, “Day two is the actual competition, the sampling, the beer, the demonstrations and the music. Day three is more of an education and enrichment day in that’s the Brew 101 Class and the CBJ Class. All the competitions will be held on Saturday, the actual KCBS sanctioned day. That is the primary day for the public and the hours are from 12 to 7pm. The doors will open a little early, with the teams turning in their entries from 12 until 1:30pm.There will be awards on site, that will be one of the activities that the barbecue teams will be receiving their awards and trophies on Saturday around 5:30 or so. One of the things that we will be doing is giving away prizes. There will be giveaways, prizes and raffles, so there will be things for people to win. There will be vendors there selling some unusual things such as horseshoe flowers. It’s a good opportunity to just graze through the booths of merchants and food and beer and just come and relax, grab a chair, grab a seat, sit down and relax and just enjoy Norco”.
Debbie spoke highly of the competition that is scheduled to attend, saying, “There will be teams like Wild Willy’s Smokin’ Hot BBQ, Burnin’ and Lootin’, Simply Marvelous, Harry Soo—so far we have teams coming from Nevada, Northern California, Idaho, Iowa, and I just got a call this morning that we may have some teams coming in from Texas and Oklahoma. For barbecue competitors, this will be their event. In other events, you may have eighty teams but only twenty will be providing samples. These teams are competitors. They are going after the Gold, this is about bragging rights. This is really a fraternity of people who care about the sport. Some of the BBQ teams will be offering samples, not for free, but they will be offering samples. We will have food vendors to supplement the barbecue. For some people that want a little bit of variety, we’ll have different types of food available. So there will be food, beer and music, the Holy Grail!”.
There will be plenty of other things for the whole family to do at the Horse Town Brew n Que Festival. “We’ll have some unbelievable music. You just can’t have barbecue and beer without having a little blues! We’ll have a variety, country music, popular music, blues and a little rock-a-billy. We have a Grammy-nominated artist that will be there, Ray Brooks. We’ve got the Blue Henrys, the 60 Grit Blues Band, the Muddy Hooker Kings, Tessie and the Calico Cats—-we even have patriotic music.We’re going to kick it off with the Tuba Force, so there is a little bit of something for everyone. We are going to have a Kid’s ‘Que, which we just solidified this morning. We are also going to have a Pig Beauty Contest. There will be plenty of things for young people to do. We are also hosting one of the very rare certified BBQ Judging classes in the state. That will be held on Sunday and typically when people do offer the CBJ class, of which there are only about 2 or 3 offered in the whole state for the whole year, so these classes are fairly rare and they usually sell out rather quickly. We’re already at 50 percent and I haven’t really advertised it. So we’re hosting a certified CBJ class and we are also hosting a Brew 101 class. We will have master brewers that will come out and show you the basics of brewing home beer. We’ll have some food demonstrations during the event Saturday where people will talk about the different types of beer and just get people acquainted to beer, home-brew and the different types of beer”.
Debbie capped off the interview with an explanation of her goals for the event. “Part of our goal is to appreciate and celebrate our diversity and our commonalities. You can do that through food and the arts and it’s just so important to recognize that we all have some common goals, we all have some history through what we eat”. She finished by adding, “This is really important to me. It is important to bring this event to this area and to anchor this event in Riverside County, in the Inland Empire and kind of establish this as a point of destination in the future”. It certainly sounds like Norco’s Horse Town Brew n’ Que Festival will be an entertaining, fun and delicious event for everyone.
Horse Town Brew n’ Que Festival
May 29-31, 2015
George Ingalls Equestrian Events Center
3737 Crestview Drive
Norco, CA 92860
Website and ticket information: www.brewnquefestival.com
PH: (951) 444-1280