Southern Sunshine BBQ & Music Festival Kicked Off Inaugural Year
by James Coulter
Travis Schraperly and Todd Bender watched plenty of YouTube videos to help prepare their barbecue. Normally, they would place fifth place at competitions. So, their team, Sloppy Hogs, winning first place in the backyard division at the inaugural Southern Sunshine BBQ & Music Festival was quite the pleasant surprise.
“It is incredible,” Schraperly said. “We have not cooked a lot these past few years with so little going on. So, to come out after a year feels fantastic.”
Both he and his teammate owe their success and their latest win to the fundamentals of barbecuing. Both of them have spent a long time perfecting their craft, to the point of watching countless on-line videos for pointers.
After winning this year’s inagural event, they can hardly wait to attend next year. “If we get the time off, we will be here,” he said.
Sloppy Hogs won the title of grand champion in the backyard division of the inagural Southern Sunshine BBQ & Music Festival, a KCBS-sanctioned barbecue competition hosted last week in Lake Wales. The grand champion title for the proffesional division went to Teddy Camp BBQ, led by Darren Warth, who had to leave the event early for Iowa before accepting his award.
The Southern Sunshine BBQ & Music Festival was hosted along the scenic shores of Lake Wailes Park in Lake Wales. Several dozen barbecue teams congregated from across the county and even the state for the event to compete in various categories within the backyard and proffesional division.
Aside from the main barbecue competition, the event also showcased various local vendors, food trucks, bounce houses, and silent auctions. Several local bands performed live music on both days of the event, with musical guest appearances by the Outta Hand Band, JD Music Group, M&M Cloggers, Candic Glover, Mickenzie Peisher, Ronny McKinley, and HuboBentley.
The event served as a fundraiser for the KT’s Sunshine Foundation, a local charitable organization that, according to its website, “to help families in need that are going through a tragic event.”
“KT’s Sunshine Foundation was formed after the death of a former Frostproof High School Student was killed by a drunk driver,” its Facebook page stated. “She spread joy throughout her life and the purpose of the foundation is to continue that mission.”
Morgan Grose, a board member for the foundation, was pleasantly surprised by the turnout that weekend. The event allowed her to see many people that she had not seen for a long time, and seeing them come out for such a good cause brought joy to her heart.
“We did this to really attract all sorts of people in the community to come together and celebrate what we are doing here, which is raising money for people who really need our support,” she said.
For the inagural event, the turnout more that exceeded initial expectations, and Grose has high expectations that next year’s event will be bigger, if not better.
“People who are so willing to jump in and help out where they are needed so we are very grateful as a foundation to have the back up and support that we do,” she said. “We owe our success to our community and the grace of God for being here, and to have the support that we do. We would not be here today without the community giving back and supporting us with helping other people.”