In February of 2000, Brian Barham and Mark
Marcaletti attended the World Championship Livestock Show and Rodeo BBQ
cook-off in Houston, Texas. While the two friends were very familiar with
chili cook-offs, and somewhat familiar with BBQ cook-offs, this was an
event that sparked their imagination. While taking the long drive back
from Houston (made longer by the sleep depravation experienced by the two
over the previous few days), the two decided that they could launch such
an event in the Fort Smith area. “We can do this!” became the catch
phrase for the two. Although they realized that Fort Smith was not ready
for an event of the magnitude of the Houston cook-off, they knew that
this was the type of event that was sorely needed in their city. Upon
their return to Fort Smith, they discussed the idea with the third of the
trio (three stooges more like) – Gregg South (Elvis). The idea was a go.
The planning began for the first exclusively BBQ cook-off in Fort Smith. The first event, Bordertown Bash 2000, held in September of 2000, downtown Fort Smith, was . . . shall we say . . . a little disappointing. There was a turn-out of only eight teams and a dismal showing of public participation. The boys, however, would not be discouraged. Timing issues, organizational issues, venue concerns, among many others were addressed. The formation of a group of BBQ enthusiasts to plan, organize, and put the event on was going to be paramount to its success.
In September of 2001, the first meeting of the Fort Smith Barbeque Society was held at Buzz's Barbeque (appropriate place) and the planning of the Bordertown Bash, for May of 2002 – downtown Fort Smith, began. The group that was assembled has proved to be one of the best BBQ organizations that the world (ok, well at least Fort Smith) has ever known. The 2002 event proved to be a great success; with over $12,000 being raised for “Stars” Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center Inc., the events chosen charity. With a dedication to the art of BBQ, and a heart for local charities, the Fort Smith Barbeque Society has grown the Bordertown Bash into a successful annual event.
2003 brought the first KCBS sanctioning of the event. In 2004, The Fort Smith Barbeque Society was officially incorporated in the state and received its 501(c) 3 non-profit designations from the IRS. The Bordertown Bash was moved to beautiful Fort Smith Park along the Arkansas river in May of 2004. The
venue, along with being absolutely gorgeous, provides plenty of room for
future growth of the event and has held the Bash for the last six years.
In January 2005, the Society cooked 1,600 (yes, you read that right - one
thousand, six hundred) racks of ribs and sent them to our military in
Iraq for the Super Bowl.
Later that year, in
May, a large group of the Society got together with some other smokers
and met at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas. (There were 44
smokers there with 24 of them being from the Fort Smith area.) Together
we cooked over 13,000 pounds of chicken, 1,000 gallons of corn, 1,000
gallons of beans, 500 pounds of hamburgers, 500 pounds of hot dogs. Why?
Together, in just seven hours, we fed over 20,000 troops, veterans, and
We also cook at the Fort Smith
Regional Air Show everu other yeat and at other festivals and events.
The Fort Smith Barbeque Society continues to work toward a bigger and better event each year, and is diligent in its efforts to support local charities, as well as the community that so willingly supports them.
To learn where we will be next, when our next meeting is, or what we are