WILLIAMS - Vintage baseball, Triple Crown and amateur barbecue cook-offs, Railhead Shooting, old fashioned ice cream social, Rotary barbecue and an evening parade all provide the perfect setting this weekend as Williams celebrates an "American Holiday."
Downtown Williams will turn into a barbecue lover's paradise Friday as the smell of barbecue - ribs, brisket, you name it - wafts through the air when the Northern Arizona Barbecue Festival arrives. The festival, presented by the Williams Main Street Association and Special Olympics Arizona, will take place Saturday and Sunday and features a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) sanctioned barbecue competition with $10,000 in prize money.
KCBS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue and, according to their website, is the world's largest organization of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts with over 10,000 members worldwide. KCBS sanctions close to 300 barbecue contests per year in the U.S. The competition in Williams will be a state championship and a Triple Crown event.
The barbecue cook-offs - Triple Crown Saturday and amateur Sunday - will be held at the Williams-Forest Service Visitor's Center, 200 W. Railroad Ave. The festival is free to the public and features a beer and wine venue along with live music over the course of both days. Chuck Vaughn, event organizer, explained that some teams will begin smoking their barbecue treats on Friday.
Tasting tickets will be available for purchase to sample barbecue the "pros" cook up. Half the proceeds go back to the barbecue teams with the remainder benefiting Special Olympics Arizona.
Taste testing begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. Popular local singer Kerry-Lynn will take the stage in the morning. The Knockabouts take the stage at 2 p.m. Winners will be announced and trophies and prize money presented at 4 p.m. A street dance featuring Whiskey Rodeo, also from Flagstaff, will begin at 8 p.m.
Bocce - similar to lawn bowling - is set up for teams of two Olympians and two residents who would like to be on a team. The tournament will run from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. both days.
The festival continues on Sunday with an amateur contest beginning at noon. Vaughn said he hopes to have lighthearted throw downs between local officials and residents alike. Entertainment continues with local favorite Sweet Lemon providing live music at 2 p.m. Awards will be presented at 4 p.m.
Amateur contestants for Sunday's competition are welcome through Saturday. The entry fee is $75, with a 50/50 split on the jackpot. Categories include wings, pork ribs and cook's choice, winner take all. Prizes include cash, trophies and bragging rights of who is the best barbecue chef in town.
To find out more, visit www.NAzBBQ.com.
Shooting, ice cream, a parade and more
Blazing guns will gleam in the sunlight when the Railhead Shooting competition returns tomorrow through Sunday. The competition is held at the shooting range north of Williams on Highway 64.
Last year, over 160 people turned out for the Railhead Shooting competition over the long Fourth of July weekend. Participants in Railhead operate under an alias. They are also expected to dress in full 1800s period clothing. The competition is sponsored by the Phoenix-based Cowboy Shooters Association.
"Our event has grown since last year," said organizer Tara Denzin. "Hopefully next year, we'll grow even bigger."
Contestants dress in attire from the 1890s or older. The firearms used in the Railhead competition vary widely and are dependent on the type of shooting event each competitor participates in. The public is welcome to watch the shooting competition. Admission is free for spectators.
"Hearing and eye protection is mandatory on the range," Denzin said.
The Northern Arizona Antique Tractor and Engine Association is returning and will display their tractors on South Second Street Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The tractors will also appear in the parade.
The Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Cordova Post No. 13 is serving a pancake breakfast at 7 a.m. Saturday at the Legion Hall, 425 W. Grant Ave. Everyone is invited to fill up with pancakes for a day of fun.
The Red Garter is looking for the sweetest tart in Arizona. An open house and a saloon gal costume contest will be held 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free tours of the 1897 bordello will be offered. The Red Garter is located at 137 W. Railroad Ave.
Writers with the Northern Arizona Authors Association are holding a book signing 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday on Railroad Avenue between Circle K and the Camp Civitan Thrift Store. Meet local writers, who will have books on hand to sell and sign and find out more about their group, which meets monthly.
The bell tower restoration of the Community United Methodist Church is complete. A dedication ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Sunday at the church, located at the corner of Sherman and Second Street. Everyone is welcome to view this historical event at Williams' oldest church building.
The church will also host their traditional ice cream social at 3 p.m. While ice cream will not be served prior to 3 p.m., it is recommended that connoisseurs arrive shortly thereafter to guarantee a taste of genuine, homemade, smooth and chilly ice cream. Donations are requested and proceeds assist the Williams Ministerial Association.
Everyone is invited to attend the Annual Fourth of July Prayer at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Monument Park. The prayer honors those who are serving or have served our country.
One of the largest parades in Arizona begins at 6 p.m. Sunday along Route 66. Parade goers can expect to see antique tractors and vehicles, animals, children riding decorated bicycles, politicians and more. This year's grand marshal is Miss Williams Route 66 Crystal Heiser.
The Arizona Vintage Baseball League from Phoenix will replay the all-American pastime game of baseball like it was played in the 1860s, complete with vintage uniforms, rules and equipment. The league will compete against the locals at 2 p.m. Sunday at Cureton Park. A special exhibition game begins at 7:30 p.m. A community barbecue begins at 7 p.m. The barbecue is hosted by the Williams Rotary Club.
And, Saturday and Sunday, everyone will have the opportunity to ride the rails via steam. Fueled by waste vegetable oil (WVO), Grand Canyon Railway is taking steam power into the 21st century while preserving historic trains and the environment. The locomotives will be powered with WVO, making hourly short-run departures from Williams. The train will travel eight roundtrip miles for a special price. No advance reservations are available. Tickets will be sold onsite. For more information, call (800) THE-TRAIN or visit TheTrain.com.
For more information on Williams' July 4 events, contact the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce at (928) 635-0273.