This year’s eighth annual Smoke on the Coast & Fireworks Festival at Destin Commons was a great success with more than 15,000 locals and visitors coming to the outdoor lifestyle center to enjoy the festivities. They also had the most charity participants teaming up to cook with various restaurants and barbecue aficionados, 17 non-profits in all.

The 17 charities received donations from Destin Commons’ Coins For A Cause program and attendees buying $1 tickets to sample barbecue dishes of their choosing. All participating charity teams received $2,500 in addition to the awards shown below. Emerald Coast Autism Center received $3,000 for assisting with event volunteers, making the grand total of donations $87,000 for this event. The Destin Rotary Club racked up both 1st place for People’s Choice and 1st place for Judge’s Pick.

Those attending got to taste mouth-watering barbecue dishes hot off the grills and cast their votes for the coveted People’s Choice title. The coveted first place People’s Choice went to the Destin Rotary Club, who also cooked their own delicious barbecue dish.

People’s Choice

1st place – Destin Rotary Club - $6,000 to Destin Rotary Club

2nd place – Brightview - $5,000 to Taylor Haugen Foundation

3rd place – Hub City Smokehouse - $4,000 to Okaloosa Habitat for Humanity

4th place – Po Wiggs BBQ - $3,000 to Fresh Start

5th place – The Gulf - $2,000 to Air Force Enlisted Village

KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society) certified judges also awarded the popular Judge’s Pick winners in a blind taste test. They were Wayne Paul, Gary Perez and Kevin Louthain.

Judge’s Pick

1st place – Destin Rotary Club - $5,000 to Destin Rotary Foundation

2nd place – Big Red Truck - $4,000 to Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast

3rd place – Bowtie BBQ - $3,000 to Emerald Coast Science Center

4th place – The Gulf - $2,000 to Air Force Enlisted Village

5th place – Buh’s BBQ - $1,000 Emerald Coast Junior League

Most Spirited awards were also given out. Winners were 1st. Bass Pro - Toys For Tots receiving $1,500; 2nd. Whole Foods Market – Choctawhatchee Bay Alliance receiving $1,250; 3rd. Brightview – Taylor Haugen Foundation receiving $750; 4th. B&C Fire Safety – Children In Crisis receiving $1,000; and 5th. Big Red Truck – Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast receiving $500.

There was plenty going on throughout the evening with stilt walkers, face painting, live entertainment by l’Magene and Season Ammons. As always, the evening closed with an impressive fireworks show colorfully bursting over Destin Commons’ skyline to Independence Day patriotic music.