BBQ and Barrels hosting diverse crowd of vendors

The aroma of barbecue was wafting through the air on Friday afternoon in downtown Owensboro at the second rendition of the “BBQ and Barrels” festival.

This event is the city’s replacement for the famous International Bar-B-Q Festival that first began in 1979.

Various vendors offered up their food and drinks along Second Street, while more arts and crafts type booths set up shop along Allen, Saint Ann and Frederica streets, each spot bringing something exciting and different to the festivities.

Lisa Lucey and her husband, from Cordyn, Indiana, were among those vendors. They set up their mobile booth, Lucey Green Freeze Fried, selling different selections of freeze-dried foods and confections.

Lisa explained that the venture into selling freeze-dried products happened without really trying.

“We bought a food dehydrator for our own personal use because food costs are just creeping up,” Lucey said.

Her husband decided to make some dehydrated candy to share with the teenagers he worked with at his part-time serving gig at Cracker Barrel.

“Those kids just really loved the stuff and told him that they’d buy the candy from him if he kept making it,” she said.

And so, he kept producing different freeze-dried sweets for them to purchase.

“He couldn’t keep up,” Lucey said. “That’s when we decided to make it more of a full-time venture. He resigned from his position at Cracker Barrel and we’ve been doing this since.”

The couple has traveled as far as Tampa, Florida to sell their treats.

Lucey grew up in Kentucky, so she “understood the hype of Owensboro barbecue” and sent her husband, who grew up in Wisconsin, to the Moonlite station for a mutton sandwich.

“It’s not as good as mine,” he said. “But it’s not bad.”

Wanita Lawson, from Hawesville, came out to man her daughter’s food truck, Hello, with the help of Hannah McCoy. Hello offers a selection of homemade lemonade and popsicles.

“We’re different because all of our stuff is made with fresh fruits and no artificial ingredients,” McCoy said.

This isn’t the first time for them at this festival either.

“We usually get asked to come because the crowd enjoys what we bring,” Lawson said.

McCoy echoed Lawson’s statement and added, “We’re just really happy to be here.”

Amanda Kirby came to this year’s festival all the way from Clarksville, Tennessee to offer up three flavors of homemade lemonade and sweet tea served alongside 10 flavors of bursting boba like the popular “bubble tea.”

Bubble tea is a tea-based beverage that originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s. The drink commonly consists of tea accompanied by chewy tapioca balls, also called bursting boba. These concoctions have slowly made their way across the United States and even into Owensboro with spots such as Bubble Tea Talk and Mr. Bubble.

Kirby said that she brought her truck to a Fourth of July here in town and enjoyed the atmosphere, so she decided to return for BBQ and Barrels.

“We were well received from the Fourth of July event so we decided the return for the festival,” she said.

Kirby said that she’s been providing lemonade and tea with the option of bursting boba in the Kentucky and Tennessee region for about three years.

Scott Woessner, owner of the Bare Butt BBQ food truck from the Gallatin, Tennessee area, had festival goers stopping to ask about the Redneck Sundae item on his menu.

“I got the idea when I was in Montana,” Woessner explained. “The guys up there would take meat and serve it over mashed potatoes and call it a ‘Redneck Sundae’.”

Woessner said that when he opened up his own food truck about a year and a half ago, he wanted to do his own take on the idea from Montana. His version consists of layers of sweet beans, mashed potatoes, bacon green beans and pulled pork topped with a creamy white mac ‘n cheese to mimic the whipped cream topping on a traditional ice cream sundae.

“It’s basically all of my hot sides put together with whatever meat you choose. And I serve it in a clear container so that you can see all of the different layers like you would an ice cream sundae,” Woessner said.

He said that the Redneck Sundae is his signature and most popular item at festivals.

Switching over to arts and crafts, Anthony and Abby Vogt, who reside in Rockport, Indiana, brought their 3-D printing and laser engraving skills to this year’s festival under the name Key Fabrication. Their booth tables held mugs and steins, coasters and 3-D printed dragons, swords, light sabers and Pokemon figurines along with collectibles from the popular fantasy table-top game, Dungeons & Dragons.

“The 3-D printed dragons are probably the most popular thing we sell,” said Anthony Vogt.

The couple decided to set up at the festival because the event is nostalgic for Abby.

“I grew up in Owensboro and my family always came down to the Bar-B-Q Festival to cook or walk around, so I knew we needed to attend,” Abby Vogt said.

Events for this year’s BBQ and Barrels run until 10 p.m. today, Saturday, May 11. The event is hosting around 25 different barbecue vendors including five church teams along with the arts and crafts booths. The festival also features two stages showcasing live music, a carnival, a bourbon experience at the Owensboro Convention Center and, new to the festival this year, a 50/50 raffle pot.