Food festival & competition donates proceeds to local charities


BOONSBORO, Md. (WDVM) — An annual food festival and competition has the longstanding tradition of donating a portion of the proceeds to local non-profits in the four-state area.

Pitmasters from all across the East Coast come to Washington County for the Interstate Barbecue Festival.

The event was founded in 2015 as a way to showcase the hard work of pitmasters. It then expanded in 2016 to include the competition portion where pitmasters are judged on taste, presentation, and the tenderness of the meat. For three days, professional and backyard pitmasters duke it out for $17,000. Kids also have the chance to get in on the fun with their own competition

Rob Immer is a Hagerstown native and the founder of the Interstate Festival Group. He explained that he left the area for a period of time and later returned to start the festival series. He wanted to be able to give back to his community in more ways than one.

One Berkeley Springs organization has been volunteering at the event since 2016 and says the partnership is a two-way street. Beth Reedy and Friends Fur Life Rescue of WV volunteer at the festival in exchange for a donation made to their organization. The non-profit works to rescue “at-risk” dogs and cats who often have health issues, are victims of neglect or abuse, or are unwanted due to their old age. Some animals are even rescued before they are euthanized at kill shelters.

“We’ve been doing several of his festivals, the barbeque being one of them. We usually have anywhere from 8 to 10 volunteers come out to help out and Rob always does a nice donation to the rescue for us volunteering,” Reedy said. “We’ve had to cancel a lot of our fundraisers due to COVID so it means a lot that we can still come out here and have a nice donation made.”

A percentage of proceeds from the festival will benefit local charities in Washington County and the four state area.

The Interstate Festival Group hosts two additional food festivals at other times of the year that also benefit local charities.

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