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BBQ fest set for Oct. 8-9

COVINGTON — You know it's fall when the smell of barbecue starts wafting from Legion Field. For the past four years, Sherman's Last Burning Fall Festival and BBQ Cook-Off sponsored by the Covington Lions Club has marked the transition into autumn in Newton County.

This year, the event will take place Oct. 8 and 9 at Legion Field on Mill Street, and all proceeds will benefit The Miracle League of Newton County, a nonprofit organization that is raising funds to build a baseball field for disabled children at City Pond Park.

"Given that everything is going to the Miracle League to build that miracle field, we're hoping that a lot of citizens and those from surrounding counties will come and join us for this great event," said Doreen Stallworth, one of the event's organizers.

More than 25 cooks are expected to participate in a professional barbecue competition sanctioned by the Kansas Barbecue Society. Amateurs will also have their chance to shine in the Backyard BBQ Competition. Categories are chicken and pork rib, and applications are available at www.covingtongalions.org.

There will also be arts and crafts vendors, a kids' area featuring inflatables, rock climbing, bungee jumping and pony rides and plenty of entertainment, including gospel, country and bluegrass musicians.

The Lions Club will be cooking and selling pulled pork plates for $8 and half rack barbecue rib plates for $10, and other food vendors will be on hand, as well.

Admission is $3, and children 12 and under get in free.

Stallworth said monetary sponsorships and attendance has fallen off at the festival as the economy has worsened. A $5,000 donation by Warner Brothers-Bonanza Productions, which produces the TV series "The Vampire Diaries," filmed in Covington, has been a big help. Most donations this year have been in-kind, she said.

"People should really come out in spite of the economy. This is like an old state fair thing. There's a lot of laughter and camaraderie," she said. "The main focus is the miracle field and the handicapped children of Newton County benefit from this. Here's all these civic organizations coming together for this two-day event, and it would be good for the citizens of Newton County and surrounding counties to join us."

Partners in the event are The Miracle League of Newton County, Newton County Recreation Commission, the Board of Commissioners, city of Covington, Kiwanis Club, Friends of Newton Parks and Oxford Lions Club.