What better way to celebrate giving back to the community than with a massive BBQ block party?
Ten years ago Shawn Walchef and Derek Marso held the very first Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ Festival. The amateur barbecue competition and food festival was a way they could thank the community while also raising money for youth charities.
The local business owners didn’t know just how big the event would become all those years ago. 10 years later, it’s since become a valued tradition in the Spring Valley village.
As the BBQ festival grew over the years, so did excitement for it annually in the San Diego area and beyond. When it’s #SVBBQFEST time, the smells of smoky goodness fills the air, and people walk up and down Troy Street sampling some of the best smoked meat, sweet desserts, and drinks the region has to offer.
“It’s all about spreading the love of barbecue, the West Coast BBQ Movement. Trying to turn BBQ into a big family,” said Brian Bushfield, owner of Hot Sauces N’ More, a big supporter of the event and the BBQ family. “It’s what we do in the backyard. They want to make it for a whole community.”
Hot Sauces N’ More was one of the many local businesses that had a presence at the Spring Valley community festival. There’s a long list of amazing people who participate in the event every year.
One of those is Coop’s West Texas BBQ. Brad “Coop” Cooper said during SVBBQFEST2019 that vending at the annual San Diego area food festival helps bring in customers who have the chance to sample his smoked barbecue specialties for the first time.
“I’ve seen a lot of people since you guys started (the BBQ festival), really getting into it, start competing, opening up restaurants, so it’s a cool thing,” Brad Cooper said.
“Plus the charity that you guys help out, it’s fun. When I come out here I have a good time every year. And believe it or not we have to get customers from this. They get their first time to try Coop’s and say, ‘Hey, where you guys at?’”
Coops message to other people on the West Coast and beyond who haven’t paid a visit to Spring Valley? “All you BBQ guys out there that are holding back, come out and support this and have a good time. It’s a fun time in the BBQ community.”
If you didn’t make it to the 10th anniversary of the Spring Valley BBQ Festival, then you most likely felt some F.O.M.O. if you logged onto social media around that time. When you’ve got your hands on food that good, you’ve just got to share it online.
“Everybody’s having a blast. And there’s so many different BBQ vendors, restaurants, competitors that are all gathered, it’s a good time,” said Corbin O’Reilly, the brains and beard behind Corbin’s Q in San Diego. “It’s always so cool to have the masses gather around.”
One of the highlights every year is MC Tony, who entertains the crowd with his engaging personality and natural charisma. This year even featured a hilarious BBQ Rap Battle streamed live on Facebook. You can watch it again in the embedded Facebook post below.
“I like for people to be happy and have fun,” Tony said. “Having done this for 10 years, each year all I try to do is allow myself to connect with the people more so that they’ll have fun. With them having fun and being comfortable, they’ll learn more about BBQ and the BBQ family.”
In addition to the KCBS-sanctioned BBQ competition, there were other special annual honors handed out at the event.
* The 2019 Marso/Walchef Community Award went to Josh Kueber, president of NEXTGEN Buiding Group. That honor goes to someone who gives of themselves and embodies the spirit of philanthropy.
* Best Tailgate, which goes to the best booth design, went to Up In Smoke BBQ, a first year team in the BBQ competition.
* Coop’s West Texas BBQ was given the honor of People’s Choice after attendees cast a majority of their votes for his fantastic food.
It’s been 10 years of food. 10 years of fun. 10 years of family.
Practice pays off
It’s just like the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.”
When the BZ Fuss amateur cooking team signed up for the 2019 Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ Festival — after learning about it online — it was to try their hand at competition BBQ and have some fun.
And fun they had. When the scores were tallied on Oct. 27, it was Team BZ Fuss who was named Grand Champions.
“It was our first KCBS competition, we weren’t really expecting to do that well.”
“It was a little bit shocking,” Fuss said about the his team’s win.
Eric Fusselman sells his Fuss’ Cooking Pellets locally in San Diego. BBQ is a passionate, but relatively new, endeavor for the electrician’s apprentice. He learned to improve his BBQ game, like many do in the digital era, in part by watching YouTube videos.
His advice to others who hope for BBQ competition glory?
“Practice, practice, practice. Make sure you can replicate it before the competition,” Fuss said.
Fuss learned about BBQ from searching online and also learned about the Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ Festival from searching online. That’s the power of Digital Hospitality, figuring out how to be found when people search online.
Digital Hospitality Live
After recording an episode of his Digital Hospitality podcast with #SVBBQFEST co-organizer Derek Marso (Valley Farm Markets), host Shawn Walchef hit the street with his microphone to document the BBQ competition, food vendors, and overall fun that Sunday.
Along with bringing out amateur BBQ teams to compete for a KCBS victory — and a badass trophy and bragging rights — the event raised money for the San Diego Mentors.
“It’s incredible to think back that we shut down the village in Spring Valley ten years ago. I went to Derek and asked him to sponsor, to bring all the meats, so we could give back to the BBQ community and raise money for underprivileged youth,” Shawn Walchef said during a KUSI news appearance.
De Andre Jones, an advanced mentor with San Diego Mentors, was also on KUSI with Shawn and Derek. The mentor said the BBQ event is a way for everyone to unite for a common cause.
“Having the opportunity to be involved with this event has been great over the years because it directly and indirectly gives back to the community,” De Andre Jones said.
“Everyone coming together for a cause that’s going to help these kids, it’s great for the whole community and all of San Diego,” Derek Marso said.
This year all of the team spots for the Kansas City Barbeque Society amateur BBQ competition portion of the event sold out in just a month. More than half of the barbecue teams were new this year, which goes to show the impact of the West Coast BBQ Movement.
“10 years ago, when me and Shawn first did it, we thought, ‘what can we do to give back to the community?’” Derek Marso said on the KUSI news appearance. “It’s just been amazing for us.”
Podcasts Recorded from Event
From set-up to tear-down the day was documented online. As you can probably tell by now, digital media was a major part of the days’ festivities. It always is when Cali BBQ Media is involved.
Along with podcast host Shawn Walchef and Blue Vision Entertainment recording an episode of the Digital Hospitality podcast on stage with special guest co-host Derek Marso, attendees were also recording and publishing their own social media videos, TikTok clips, and more, while others snapped selfies on Troy Street.
Social media posts about an event like the Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ Festival help promote it to a wider audience who might consider attending next year. All those hashtagged posts also serve as a fun digital yearbook-of-sorts for those who did attend.
In fact, many of the attendees at the #SVBBQFEST2019 learned about it from social media like Big John (@bigjohnbrand), Patrick Williams (@char_bbq_sd), and Mac and Cheri from Hefty Boy BBQ (@heftyboybbq).
Many of the relationships built between those in the West Coast BBQ Movement were forged and fostered online, specifically on social media. The #SVBBQFEST gives a real world place for those who communicate in the digital world to meet up “IRL”.
There wasn’t just one podcast being recorded at the festival. Sheli and Ben Higgins recorded a Down at Our Rendezvous podcast episode from the 2019 Spring Valley Tailgate & BBQ Festival.
On the episode, the hosts interviewed their friend and fellow podcast host Shawn Walchef about his festival, Cali BBQ, and its 10th anniversary.
“You have gotten us hooked on it. We now feel like family out here,” Sheli Higgins told Shawn on the Down at Our Rendezvous podcast.
2019 Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ Festival Official KCBS Results
|3||JOHNS SWEETFIRE BBQ||331.4284|
|4||Big John Brand||327.3940|
|8||Soak N Smoke BBQ||319.9200|
|9||Double D’s BBQ||313.0400|
|11||Jer’s All American BBQ||308.4916|
|12||Cask & Que||307.5204|
|18||Suds and Smoke||274.1028|
|19||Up in Smoke BBQ||260.0684|
|20||Smokin Jay’s Bartz-B-Que||118.8456|