Don’t Miss The Reptile Discovery Program this Weekend!

Enjoy the FREE Reptile Discovery Program, sponsored by Five Star Credit Union!  Bruce Shwedick will bring several of his reptile friends to PorktoberQue, and he will present a program on Friday evening (September 26th) at 7pm and three programs on Saturday September 27th (11:30, 1:30 and 3:30, tentatively). The programs will be on the stage in the air-conditioned Festhaus, located in the large metal building facing the Ross Clark Circle at the Farm Center. After each program, Bruce will offer the opportunity for spectators to get up close and personal with select reptiles and take photographs.

Here are a few photographs of the Reptile Discovery Program in action at schools and our festival last year. Bring your camera and enjoy this free activity at PorktoberQue, courtesy of Five Star Credit Union!
1493199_686360761404124_1058456290_n169063_186014121438793_7305936_nThe Reptile Discovery program, presented by Bruce Shwedick and based in Plant City, Florida, has provided assembly programs to well over 1,000 schools in forty-five states across the US and in Washington, D.C. Each program features large, gentle, captive born reptiles from around the globe. Information on their natural history, geography and conservation is presented in a format suitable for audiences of all ages.

Bruce began raising reptiles at the age of ten with the help of his older brother Michael. Michael is also a reptile specialist and the founder of Reptile World, Inc. in Maryland, where they grew up. Please . Michael received his initial professional training at the Miami Serpentarium, under the direction of William E. Haast.

Bruce began assisting his brother with summer program in 1974, and has presented programs on his own since 1975. Bruce attended the first crocodile conservation workshop held in Africa in 1978. Since then Bruce has returned to Africa four times and has also traveled to South America and Asia to learn more about reptiles and their impact on the lives of people.

He is a steering committee member of the IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, in which he currently serves as chair of the Tomistoma Task Force . In addition to providing education programs ands exhibits, Bruce also operates Crocodile Conservation Services, and works closely with curators and keepers working in zoological parks and aquariums on projects related to the captive husbandry, reproduction and conservation of crocodilians.

His son Graham has begun assisting Bruce with his summer programs and his daughter Aubrey is developing her own program focusing on Tarantulas. reptile


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Free Cooking Class Today At Academy Sports+Outdoors in Dothan

Take a few moments out of your schedule today to take your kids (between the ages of 8-18) to Academy Sports + Outdoors on Montgomery Highway. Between 12:30 and 2:30 students can try out their grilling skills on several grills. Academy has purchased a number of steaks to give to the kids to try out their skills (first come first serve on the steaks). Dothan Country Club Chef du Cuisine, Joe Whaley, will be on hand to assist kids in learning some finer points of grilling. Best of all, this event is FREE courtesy of Academy Sports+Outdoors!

Free Obstacle Course Challenge at PorktoberQue

This year at PorktoberQue, spectators will have the opportunity to be named the King of the Cave (and also the Queen of the Cave or the Kid of the Cave) thanks to Tuffy Automotive. Just outside the Tuffy Man Cave, there will be a Bavarian Obstacle Course Challenge to see who is the best in the Cave.

The Challenge will involve some running and simple Oktoberfest themed activities and is free to participate in. The times scored will be posted on the Man Cave white board, and nice trophies and prizes will be awarded at the end of the event.  To participate, go to the Tuffy Man Cave (under the large tents) at PorktoberQue and sign up to run the Challenge!

Below is the artists rendition of the beautiful acrylic “crowns” that will be the trophies for the winners. So, take some time while at PorktoberQue to take the Cave Challenge!
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PorktoberQue Package Give Away— Includes Hotel Stay!

We are pleased to partner with our host hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, to offer a free one night stay on Friday September 26 along with 4 admission tickets and a souvenir beer mug to one lucky winner.  Click the link to get your chances to win this give away! Contest ends 9/20 and winner will be drawn through the Raflecopter automated service and notified with instructions on how to make your hotel reservation. Good Luck!

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Ultimate Air Dogs coming to PorktoberQue

Have You Ever Seen A Dog Fly?

The Ultimate Air Dogs make it a regular habit to fly, leap and sail to new heights and unimaginable distances. If you’ve never seen these dogs and their humans interacting and competing in the Ultimate Air Dog Challenge, you are in luck because they are coming to Dothan September 26-27 for PorktoberQue.

Ultimate Air Dogs, the premier dock jumping organization in the country, was started in 2005 by former Detroit Tigers pitcher Milt Wilcox and his son Brian. Milt was best known for winning the 3rd game of the 1984 World Series, and comes to the events as emcee and main announcer. His charismatic personality is entertainment in itself, but the real attraction is the dock diving.

Dogs are divided up into divisions according to the distance they can jump. Dogs can be any breed or mix and any size as long as they can swim. A handler will throw the toy into the pool and the dog runs and jumps to catch it. Distance is measured and awards are given. Ultimate Air Dogs has become popular because of the down to earth attitude, the grass-roots background and the ability to make every competitor feel welcome.

Ultimate Air Dogs are going to have a competition at PorktoberQue in Dothan on September 26-27 thanks to the generosity and support of the Lucky Dog Sports Club of the Wiregrass who are making this event possible. Every dog is welcome to sign up for the competition or practice which will introduce your dog to dock jumping, and can do so by registering online at the Ultimate Air Dogs webpage or on site the day of the competition.

It is free to watch the Ultimate Air Dogs dock diving competition, and there will be some seating available near their pool. Spectators may want to bring a lawn chair to ensure they have a seat, though many prefer to stand to see all the activity. The Ultimate Air Dogs competition will be held parallel to the cattle barn at the Houston County Farm Center, near the East entrance to the German-themed Biergarten. PorktoberQue runs from 5-10 pm on Friday, September 26 and from 10-6 pm on Saturday, September 27 and is an Oktoberfest celebration and barbecue competition that is fun for the whole family. To learn more about the festival visit or call (334) 699-1475.

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Pet Friendly PorktoberQue Offers Pet Parade

Who doesn’t love a good pet parade? The cute costumes, the furry little faces, and the joy that the crowd feels are all the elements of a good pet parade, and we hope to bring all of that to PorktoberQue this year. CHARM (City of Headland Animal Rescue Mission) will be hosting the pet parade and invites all animals to participate. The rules are simple:  Your dog or pet should be friendly to other dogs, your pet must be on a short leash (no retractable leashes) and you must bring a baggie to pick up any waste your dog leaves behind.

Registration for the “PorktoberQue Polka, Pigs, Pints and Pups Pet Parade” begins Saturday, September 27th, outside the main gate. CHARM will have a table set up for registration from 10:00 until 10:30 AM. At this time the workers will line up the pets and get ready for the 11:00 pet parade throughout the PorktoberQue fairgrounds. The registration fee, payable the day of the event, is $10 and provides for two admission tickets for the humans as well as the pet. 100% of the registration fee raised goes to CHARM and their work in helping find forever homes to animals in need.

Although costumes are not required, feel free to dress yourself and/or your pet up in an Oktoberfest themed costume, or one representing fall or your favorite holiday. This is going to be a fun event we hope to grow each year. For more information on the Pet Parade, call CHARM at (334) 693-9097

*Note- pets are not allowed into the Festhaus/Biergarten or the tasting tent, but are welcome in the rest of the  PorktoberQue grounds. 8431_195898042787_4454152_n IMG_0271 130203_beggin_parade_1-1


Get a Butt to Go at PorktoberQue!

The Miss BBQ Queens will be selling Boston Butts and Racks of Ribs for $25 at this years PorktoberQue Festival!  You may pre-purchase tickets from any Miss BBQ Queen and receive a FREE entry ticket to get in to PorktoberQue, or if you are already at the festival stop by and see us. We will have additional butts and ribs for sale for festival goers to purchase, take home and enjoy! For more information contact Amy Oyler @ 334-441-7687 or a current Miss BBQ Queen!

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Check out the New Model Cars at PorktoberQue!

Thanks to our title sponsor, Mike Schmitz Automotive Group, we are able to put on PorktoberQue and have great entertainment, a world-class barbecue competition, and keep the price of admission super low. We are pleased to offer an area near the main outside stage for the Schmitz Auto Group of Mercedes-Benz, Mazda and Hyundai to bring the latest models of cars for you to look at while at PorktoberQue. Please consider going by and looking at the new cars and talk to the representatives on hand. Also, let them know you appreciate all that Mike does in our community, especially sponsoring PorktoberQue! schmitz-1

Backyard Athletes… Corn Hole Tournament Coming to PorktoberQue!

Are you into that bean bag tossing game popular at tailgate parties and in backyards across the country? If you think you and a partner have the right stuff to compete, then sign up for the Corn Hole in the Wiregrass Tournament, to be held at PorktoberQue September 26-27. Each two person team who registers receives 4 general admission tickets (so you can both come out Friday to practice and Saturday to compete) and gets entered into the tournament. Competition play is Saturday at 3pm with awards to immediately follow. All proceeds benefit youth athletics and the Dothan High School Cross Country team. For more information call Mike at 334-797-3668

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Is Dothan the Only Alabama City To Do This?

Hosting a professional barbecue competition is no easy task. Before even registering the first team, an organizer needs to secure a venue large enough to hold dozens of teams, and needs to make sure that each team site has adequate power and water for the weekend. At the site, a building or secure area has to be near the cook team sites for the judging of the entries. The venue also has to be large enough to accommodate spectators, ancillary activities, vendors and parking for everyone involved, including the judges.

Next, the event organizer then needs to come up with the prize money, which has to be guaranteed for most sanctioning bodies. Many times the sponsoring body putting on the contest (City or Civic Group sometimes) fronts the money, but most often it’s a charity group holding the event. In this case, they would typically go solicit sponsors to raise the money needed to hold the event.

Once a purse for the contest is determined, the contest is given a name and logo (traditionally featuring a pink pig) and the event organizer applies for sanctioning from one of the several sanctioning bodies in the United States. It is with the blessing of the sanctioning body that the organizer can begin the process of soliciting teams and judges, which realistically accounts for 95% of the actual competition.

Teams historically tend to wait until as late as possible to part with their entry fee. Judges typically send in their entry form as soon as possible to secure a spot. Judges want to know as soon as possible if they will judge the competition, as many travel great distances at their own expense to judge. This paradox often leads to having fifty judges and eight teams around two months before the competition. Teams will, quite literally, show up the day of the competition and ask if they can have a spot. Most organizers will say yes, because that’s extra income for the event, but it throws the judging ratios into chaos. Most sanctioning bodies require six judges and a table captain, or seven certified judges, per six teams entered, so you can imaging the calculations happening the morning of a contest if extra teams have been added.

If the barbecue competition also holds a festival in conjunction with the cook-off, which many do to attract spectators, then there is an entirely separate set of logistics and planning happening. What kind of activities, musical acts, vendors and events for families should all be considered before any type of promotion of the barbecue competition begins. Really, there are two separate events happening during a barbecue festival— a sanctioned barbecue competition involving dozens of teams, judges and representatives from the sanctioning body, and a community festival with entertainment and activities for the general public. It takes a small organized army to do both consecutively.

Planning for any sanctioned, professional barbecue competition should begin at least a year out for an inaugural event, and eight to ten months out for consecutive years. Obtaining sponsors is the item that has to occur the farthest out, as many corporations require up to a year’s notice to consider sponsorship. The months and weeks leading up to the event will require more than a typical forty hour work week to get all of the work done if it is being planned by only one or two designated chairpersons.

For this reason, very few organizations or cities put on more than one sanctioned professional barbecue competition per year. It’s just too time consuming for one thing, and for another, two competitions put on each year by the same group or person would in itself be a full time job. But just don’t tell that to the folks in Dothan, Alabama. They have two sanctioned professional competitions just six months apart from each other, and both are successful events as both competitions and barbecue festivals for the community.

The Tri-State BBQ Festival held the second weekend in spring each year will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2015. The competition is sanctioned by the Florida Barbecue Association, and draws both professional and backyard contestants. The show was featured on the hit TV series, BBQ Pitmasters in 2012 and drew a record sixty-eight competition teams that year competing for $10,750 in prize money. Competitors have come from as far away as New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio, but most hail from Alabama, Georgia and Florida. 

The Tri-State BBQ Festival is a foodies dream, featuring cooking demonstrations, free samples, a sauce contest, chili cook off and a grilling contest for kids, among the food-related activities. Additionally, there are kids activities, concerts, a car show and many fun family activities all weekend.

PorktoberQue is Dothan’s second sanctioned barbecue competition, now in its third year. It is held on the last weekend of September, the historically preferred weekend for a German Oktoberfest. The Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned contest has grown by leaps and bounds since its first year, increasing attendance by 300% and prize money by over 50% in this short period of time. cropped-2014-lores-logo1.jpg

The concept for PorktoberQue combines an Oktoberfest themed festival with a traditional barbecue atmosphere. Although fall beers are featured along with polka bands and German music, the event offers a variety of fun activities for people of all ages. There is a free Reptile Discovery Program geared toward the kids, a dog dock-diving competition for pet lovers, a car show for nostalgia buffs and plenty of food, both German and Southern.

Each of the two events draws thousands of spectators from across the Southeast United States who fill the Houston County Farm Center in Dothan. Though most competition teams camp on site to maintain their barbecue pit temperatures, the judges, spectators and vendors help the local economy by booking rooms in area hotels. By having both of the festivals encompass multiple days, more out of town visitors can enjoy all the activities, music and food of the event.

While Dothan, Alabama may not be Alabama’s largest city, or have more barbecue restaurants than the larger towns, Dothan encompasses the heart and soul of southern barbecue through their commitment to the community and competitors by hosting two barbecue contests a year, a feat no other city in Alabama can claim.