Smoketober Fest in Ottawa will take to the Jordan block Oct. 8

Inaugural event will raise money for Ottawa to create a Christmas light walking tour along the Illinois River

Twenty-one different chefs aim to take home first place Saturday, Oct. 8, when Ottawa’s inaugural Smoketober Fest comes to the Jordan block.

It’s more than just a competition, though: The $15 ticket price includes a meal of pulled pork, cornbread, baked beans and coleslaw.

Ottawa Visitor Center Director Donna Reynolds said the whole downtown is going to smell glorious. Each chef will receive chicken thighs, four racks of baby back ribs and two Boston pork butts to show off their skills.

All funds raised through the event will be donated to the city of Ottawa to create a Christmas light walking tour along the Illinois River near the former location of Central School.

Stephanie Stacy, owner of Floret Events, said the idea for a smoking competition came to her because she loves barbecue and Ottawa doesn’t have a restaurant that strictly serves barbecue.

“I thought, what better way to attract a good barbecue restaurant than to have an event that shows how many other people like barbecue in town?” Stacy said.

Competitors are coming from all over Illinois and include people coming from Ottawa, Sheridan, Spring Valley and as far away as Bensenville and Vernon Hills.

Smoketober Fest will be more than just barbecue: It also will feature axe throwing, bags, a mechanical bull, a 50/50 raffle and musical performances from both Christopher Corkery and Whiskey Bent.

Tickets purchased after Oct. 1 will cost $20.