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34 barbecue teams headed to Ceres Aug. 12
Whitmore Park venue
BBQ poster

The Ceres Chamber of Commerce will host its annual barbecue event in two weekends, this time at yet another venue.

The former "Smoke on the River" event has been rebranded as "Bands, Brews & BBQ Throwdown" which will take place Aug. 11-12 at Whitmore Park in downtown Ceres.

Last year's event was held at River Oaks Golf Course and the 2015 event took place at Tuolumne River Lodge. The Chamber began planning for a different location since the city learned in the spring that increased river flows could cause flooding into summer. Since the venue went to professional judging status, the event will attract pro barbecue pit masters, many of whom operate out of RVs which would have difficulty accessing the lower golf course grounds. The change in venue means the Chamber is not being charged to use the park as it was at River Oaks, and thus there is no need to charge the public for admission to recoup those costs.

"That'll give more people an opportunity to come and attend the event," said Renee Ledbetter, president of the Ceres Chamber of Commerce.

"It's going to be a little tight because we've got a lot of vendors and with it being free we're going to draw a much larger crowd."

The event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society and opened up to professional and amateur divisions. A total of 34 teams have signed up, 24 of which are professional teams. The rest will compete as amateurs.

Professional teams are those who have been paid to cater barbecued foods, said Ledbetter.

The event will kick off with a Friday Night Pre-Party to take place between 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Aug. 11. HardyAppetize will be the sole barbecue food vendor on Friday evening and St. Stan's Brewery of Modesto will be on hand to reintroduce its brand to Ceres.

The big event will run from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12 and include barbecue meat tasting, craft brews, music, a rib-eating contest from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m., artisan vendors and activities for the kids, such as games, a jumper, slide, mechanical bull riding, face painting and balloon twisters. Admission is free. A half-hour awards ceremony will take place beginning at 5 p.m.

Up to 10 persons may sign up for the rib-eating contest online or at the event itself.

"We still have a few spots available," said Ledbetter on Monday.

Over 30 vendors have signed up to sell food and other items. Dan's BBQ of Modesto and Mama Webber's BBQ of Manteca will be selling barbecued food items. Maria's Tacos and Central Valley High Band Boosters will also be vending food on Saturday.

Samples of the barbecued meats being judged may be purchased by the public starting at 2 p.m. Saturday. Competitors barbecuing chicken will be turning in their finished products for judging between noon and 12:30 p.m. while ribs are due at 12:30 p.m., pork shoulders at 1 p.m. and brisket at 1:30 p.m.

"Once that's done then we open up the public tastings at 2 and in the meantime people can buy food from our food vendors," said Ledbetter.

Emceeing the event will be Randy Marantz of the Modesto radio station The Hawk 104.1 FM.

The music lineup for Bands, Brews & BBQ Throwdown will include LaVonne & the Train Wreck from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday; Voo Doo Killer Blues from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday; Valley Fire from 1 to 2:30 p.m.; Kayla Just from 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.; and Faithfully, a Journey tribute band, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

A total of $7,600 in purse money will be offered for the top five finishers in the meat categories.

Teams that have signed up for the event are: Bar-B-Cuda BBQ, Smokey Boys BBQ, Smok'n Ts BBQ, Big 3 BBQ, Xtreme BBQ, ZZ BBQ, Slap Ya Mamma BBQ, Bill's Best BBQ, Simply Marvelous BBQ, Ric's Righteous Ribs, Hot Link & Chorizo BBQ, Smoked Seduction BBQ, Meat Liquidators, DG Firehouse BBQ, Rib Shots BBQ, Big Poppa Smokers, Dad's California Smokehouse, Sparrow Lane Classic Vinegar BBQ, RBQ, Off the Hook BBQ, Beer Belly BBQ, Spitz Brothers BBQ, Smokin' the 916, Nutin2itBut2Qit, Flame Thrower BBQ, Hello BBQ, Canyon Riders BBQ, Smokin' Axe BBQ, Los Mexi-q-tioners BBQ, Badd-A-Bing BBQ, Smokey Luv BBQ, Show Off BBQ, JnJ's Smoking BBQ and Full Barrell BBQ.

For more information, visit

A portion of the proceeds from the event may go to the Ceres Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Foundation.