Gearing up for ‘Grills ‘n’ Grilles’ |

Gearing up for ‘Grills ‘n’ Grilles’

United Way of Nevada County kicks off its 11th annual Backyard BBQ Competition and Car Show, "Grills 'n' Grilles," on Aug. 26 at beautiful Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley.
Submitted photo to Prospector |

United Way of Nevada County will hold its 11th annual backyard barbecue competition and car show, “Grills ‘n’ Grilles” on Aug. 26 at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley.

As the crowd gathers in the park, the air will be filled with the sweet smells of hickory and slow-smoked beef, pork and chicken while music plays.

This event includes local teams competing in a backyard barbecue contest as well as Kansas City Barbecue Society cooks from all over the Western United States competing in the state championship barbecue contest.

Professional barbecue teams will battle it out as they compete for a California State Championship title, team of the year points, and cash prizes. These types of competitions are regularly aired on Food Network, the Travel Channel, and TLC, but there is more to it than what you see on TV.

The local backyard barbecue teams will offer tastings; judge for yourself, and vote for your favorite team. Samples from Kansas City Barbecue Society barbecue teams will be made available for purchase. Bring all of your senses to life as you wander among the teams — see, smell, and taste mouthwatering barbecue.

A car and motorcycle show will be accompanying the competition with vehicles from every make, model and year, including electric vehicles. Cast your vote for the Best in Show.

Special for this year’s event, there will be a group of 10 electric cars and a booth with information about the benefits of hybrid vehicles.

Fun and Games

The third annual Derek Sorensen Memorial Disc Golf Tournament will take place early in the day, with demonstrations during the “Grills ‘n’ Grilles” event.

There will be raffles, food and specialty vendors and an area for children with a bounce house, games, a clown and face painting. Western Gateway Park is also known for its dog park, playground, bocce balls courts, and other amenities, all of which will open during the event.

Local blues, rock and country band “Crossing 49” — which includes Nevada County residents Greg Christensen on guitar and vocals, Randy Bodenhammer on guitar, Keith Marcussen on bass and vocals, and Mitch Ward on Drums and vocals — will perform during the event.

Admission is free. Visit for a full schedule of events.

Event History

The United Way of Nevada County has been in existence for 35 years. Starting as a community chest of sorts for funds to help contribute to the community. “Our mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community. United Way of Nevada County envisions a community where all individuals and families achieve their desired potential through healthy lives, education and income stability,” said Executive Director Megan Timpany.

The three different ways that The United Way of Nevada County receives revenue is through business campaigns, individual donors and special events. With the onset of the recession in 2007, they started to see business campaigns start to drop. In an effort to build up revenue they created two events.

First, the United Way backyard barbecue competition was established.

It took place at the Gold Miners Inn parking lot for many years. It was held on a Thursday evening, during the Thursday night market in downtown Grass Valley.

The second event United Way established was a foreign car show, which took place on Broad Street in Nevada City.

The events were so well received by the community that the United Way Board combined the events in 2013 and from there the event started to snowball.

In 2014, the event’s second year, a Kansas City barbecue competition was added, along with the memorial disc golf tournament honoring Derek Sorenson who was the son of one of United Way’s key volunteers.

“This has become a very exciting and fun event. It’s multi-generational, and has kind of a festival feel with all the different pieces to it,” said Timpany.

As this event is a fundraiser, all the funds collected go into the Community Impact Fund to help United Way with their mission.

For more information, or to find out how you can contribute to United Way of Nevada County you can go to

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