When a board member mentioned that West Virginia did not have a state BBQ festival, the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention & Visitors Bureau saw potential for a great tourism event.
Held on Saturday, September 8, 2007, the first ever Pickin’ in the Panhandle was a success, despite the record-breaking heat. Lazy A Campground in beautiful Back Creek Valley, West Virginia was host to 3,500 guests who enjoyed toe-tapping, finger-snapping bluegrass music provided by Cadillac Sky, Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain, The Half Bad Bluegrass Band, Lonesome Highway, The Rolling Coyotes, and The Vaughn Family. Pickin’ and playin’ contests also got folks on their feet. The mouth-watering smell of BBQ filled the air, as 25 professionals and 15 backyarders cooked up the competition.
In 2008, Pickin’ in the Panhandle grew to a two-day festival, with bands performing on the Main Stage and Pickin’ Porch. The competition became sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) and Governor Joe Manchin III proclaimed Pickin’ as “The WV State BBQ and Bluegrass Festival.”
The festival has continued to grow each year, featuring many big names in the bluegrass and music business, including: The Charlie Daniels Band, Cadillac Sky, Shenandoah, Josh Williams Band, Mountain Heart, The Gibson Brothers, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, The Grascals, Dale Ann Bradley, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Randy Kohrs, Ricky Skaggs, Lonesome River Band, Marty Stuart, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.