Fountain Valley hosts a bonanza of barbecue

One hundred dollars may sound like a hefty charge for a meal, even if it's all you can eat.

But for two all-you-can-eat pigouts, it may sound like a bargain.

At least, that's the hope of the producers of the Orange County BBQ Bonanza. The weekend festival at the Fountain Valley Sports Park offers a special VIP Rib Village package for $100, which entitles the buyer to unlimited food and drink for four to five hours — in other words, lunch and dinner, with a few snacks in between.

"We wristband you and stamp you, and then you can take off, come back and eat some more," said Troy Hassett, the vice president of O Entertainment, which is producing the event.

Hassett's company is hoping for big appetites when the BBQ Bonanza kicks off Thursday — and so is the city of Fountain Valley, which hopes to make the event an annual tradition. Part of the proceeds from this weekend's event will go to the Fountain Valley Community Foundation and the city's recreation programs.

Community Services Manager Mark Nix said he hoped the event would brand Fountain Valley as a tourist destination.

"Obviously, the title is the Orange County BBQ Bonanza, not the Fountain Valley BBQ Bonanza, so we're trying to bring some recognition to Fountain Valley and bring people to Fountain Valley to spend money, whether it's at our hotels or gas stations or restaurants," he said. "This event will show what Fountain Valley has to offer."

Thursday through Sunday, the park at 16400 Brookhurst St. will fill with local barbecue teams as well as others from across the country. Patrons can vote on their favorite ribs, sauce and other categories, with the winners to be announced Sunday.

Kenny Tran, the main chef of Bolsa BBQ in Corona, was busy Wednesday planning a menu of St. Louis pork ribs, baby-back beef ribs, pork skewers and side dishes.

He said the competition would be his first, but the prizes weren't foremost on his mind.

"If we win, great," Tran said. "If not, better luck next time. We just want come out and have some fun."

Among the out-of-town visitors are Dan Johnson of Johnson's Bar-B-Que in Virginia and Enrique Vega of Cowboys Barbeque & Rib Co. in Texas. While setting up their booths Tuesday in Fountain Valley, they said they spend more than half the year on the road and develop a camaraderie of sorts.

"Only for about two hours a day are we competitors," Johnson said. "The rest of the time, we're friends."

If You Go

What: Orange County BBQ Bonanza

Where: Fountain Valley Sports Complex, 16400 Brookhurst St.

When: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday (VIP Rib Village open 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday)

Cost: $5, with children 12 and under free if accompanied by an adult. Free admission is offered 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday with a business card. Various menu items range from $2 to $25. VIP Rib Village tickets, which cover all-you-can-eat food and drink and designated seating, are available for $100 (ages 18 and older).

Information: (562) 495-5959 or

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