WELCH, WV (WVNS)– The first ever Coalfields Cook-off started in McDowell County. This festival is free and open to the public. BBQ teams from all over the country came out to showcase their cooking talents in the city of Welch.
On Friday, June 11, 2021, vendors spent their day getting ready for the busy weekend. Stephens Groves is the owner of the Bandit BBQ. He came to Welch from Shady Spring to participate.
“Well, I wanted to come down to the town of Welch to give support to the town because I know they have had a hard time,” Stephen said.
Groves is a veteran and his older brother Terry helps him out on occasions. He said he came down to Welch to help support his brother’s business.
“It was a good opportunity for us to come down here and to promote our BBQ, also to meet the citizens of Welch. They have been really receptive of us being down here,” Terry said.
Families enjoyed activities like a beer garden, BBQ tasting, kids activities and an ATV show. Georgia Thunderbolts and Grammy nominated Bluegrass legend Dale Ann Bradley are just some of the names performing.
With the cookoff happening, Welch could see a boost in the economy. Vendors from Virginia, South Carolina and other states came to Welch to participate. The City of Welch used to be a coal mining town, but with coal not being high in demand, a lot of people are not heading there.
“Also, economic impact from a taxation standpoint, so anyone who is coming into Welch and spending their money and not impacting infrastructure, is obviously fantastic,” Andrea Ball, event coordinator of the Coalfields cook off said.
Ball said she hopes to host more events like this in the near future. The festival will run through June 12 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Saturday, they host an ATV show (weather permitted).