Rib & barbecue cookoff benefits Veterans of North Alabama

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A smoked barbecue and rib cook-off sizzled South Memorial Parkway on Sunday morning — all for the benefit of local veterans and groups in need.

The event, sponsored by Turf Medic, is in its 6th year and began setting up at 6 a.m. on October 17.

The smoking of ribs filled the air by Sportspage Lounge in south Huntsville, thanks to the cookoff.

“We always wanted to give back to the community, that’s the main thing,” said Luis Blankenship of Turf Medic. “We like to give back and appreciate everybody who’s with us.”

Blankenship’s business wanted to shake up the ingredients for its first charity competition since the pandemic after hearing that many donor-dependent veterans charities were facing hard times now.

“I think it’s very disappointing… because what’s gonna happen now?” Blankenship asked. “With this pandemic and all the stuff, what’s gonna happen to them now? So this is why we do what we do.”

Blankenship’s mission got the attention of Diamond Sports Bar owner Daniel Gazda, himself a Navy veteran who knows many like him going through too much.

“Everyone goes through struggles every single day,” said Gazda. “And for these folks it’s so much harder every single day with PTSD, all those sorts of issues. And obviously there’s disabled veterans, but some of those you can’t see off the bat, and they need help as well.”

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