Barbecue festival benefiting police department gets cooking Saturday in Mid County

Published 12:22 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

PORT NECHES — A first-ever event geared at showcasing local talent kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday on Port Neches Avenue.

“We’re in the final planning stages,” said Heather Burton. “We’ve had last-minute sponsors and last-minute vendors. I’m ready for it to be here.”

Burton, owner of My Tribe Nutrition, and Juss Rabalais, owner of Old West Smoke Company food truck, first approached the Port Neches City Council in October to present what would become the SETX Craft BBQ Festival.

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At the time, organizers expected approximately 600 attendees.

As of Wednesday, a Facebook event showed interest from 2,000 people.

“A lot of us local businesses are giving away family fun packs to give everyone an opportunity to come out and explore,” Burton said. “It seems to be a hit. People are tagging local businesses and local restaurants in support of it.”

The avenue will close off from Marion Street to Dallas Street with an entry gate at the intersection of Nall and Port Neches Avenue.

Rabalais said the purpose of the festival is to “keep things local.”

And that, Burton said, is a passion of his.

“It was his vision and his dream to bring craft barbecue, different businesses and fellow dreamers together to create a festival,” she said. “We want to bring new businesses to the Avenue and showcase our local vendors and local talent.”

The event, which ends at 8 p.m., includes vendors with a variety of food, live music and an area for children.

Burton said when it comes to the music, several local favorites and up-and-coming artists are performing. That includes Casey Chesnutt, son of country music artist Mark Chesnutt, who is set to play at Avenue Axe from 5-8 p.m.

“It’s a way to highlight the area and have an event where we can have outdoor music and the smell of barbecue,” Burton said. “(Neches Brewing Company) will be open. Avenue Axe will be open.”

The two businesses are named as event co-hosts.

In addition to bringing business, family and food together for a day, the festival also provides support to the Port Neches Police Officers Nonprofit Association, which formed in mid-2022 and hosted the city’s first Blue Santa program.

“I work closely with the nonprofit,” Burton said. “Juss is really big into giving back. The foundation is newly formed…and we know they need a lot of new support. We just thought for the first year that would really benefit them and their endeavors to grow the foundation.”

As for the future, organizers hope to continue hosting the festival in Port Neches with a statewide reach.

“We look forward to it being a sanctioned event in the future where there’ll be more craft barbecuers and vendors,” Burton said. “The barbecue circuit is pretty good in Texas, and we’d like to make a name for that in our area.”

Tickets to the event are $25, with children 10 and under admitted for free. Presale tickets can be purchased for $15 at 1701 BBQ, Ko Korean Grill, Pour09 Rooftop Bar, Avenue Axe, Neches Brewing Company, Touch of Cajun Café and My Tribe Nutrition.