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Building a Yearly Community Event featuring Spring Valley BBQ Festival (DH 008)

How to host an annual festival featuring the Spring Valley BBQ Festival

The Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ Festival started as an idea — a way to give back to the community. After 10 years it grew into something much bigger.

This special episode of the Digital Hospitality podcast was recorded live on the main stage of the 10th annual Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ Fest with event organizers Shawn Walchef and Derek Marso.

Get the inside story of #SVBBQFEST and how it evolved into a huge charitable BBQ block party that became bigger than Cali Comfort BBQ, bigger than Valley Farm Market, and bigger than either Shawn Walchef or Derek Marso could have imagined.

Recording the Cali BBQ Media podcast "Digital Hospitality"Shawn (Cali BBQ Media) and Derek (Valley Farm Markets) previously co-hosted the Behind the Smoke: BBQ War Stories podcast, which wrapped up its 100 episode run in 2019. Derek Marso also co-hosted the #BETonBBQ episode of Digital Hospitality, featuring Chef David Rose.

Later in this Digital Hospitality podcast episode, Shawn and Derek are joined by Behind the Smoke’s original producer Cory Wagner (Wvfrnt Media) to talk about the significant planning, organization, digital marketing, and teamwork it takes to host a successful yearly event for charity.

“This is where it all started,” said Derek Marso as the SVBBQFEST amateur BBQ teams and vendors were setting up along the street outside Cali Comfort BBQ in Spring Valley. “It’s cool how it’s grown, and what we’ve done.”

Cory Wagner, Derek Marso and Shawn Walchef on Digital HospitalityIn 2009, a year after Cali Comfort BBQ opened, Shawn hadn’t met Derek, but knew of his nearby Valley Farm Market.

When the idea for the Spring Valley BBQ Fest was dreamed up more than a decade ago, Shawn said the small team had to sit down and figure out exactly how to plan a festival, which takes lots of logistics and help to pull off.

“You need sponsors, you need people to buy into the vision. Derek not only bought in. He’s all in,” Shawn Walchef said about his former podcast cohost and fellow event organizer. “It was the start of a friendship.”

Setting up the 2019 Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ FestivalWhen Shawn came to Derek all those years ago asking him to sponsor the Spring Valley community event, Derek said he was interested in more.

“I said ‘Dude, I don’t want to sponsor. I want to be a part of that. How can we make this thing grow,” Derek Marso said.

“And here we are 10 years later. It’s grown into something pretty unique and pretty awesome.”

Watch a video recap and on-the-street interviews from the 2019 Spring Valley BBQ Festival on the Cali BBQ Media website at

The Reserve Grand Champion trophy for the Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ FestivalDuring the BBQ block party, smells of smoky goodness filled the air, and visitors sampled some of the best food the San Diego area has to offer.

The event has amazing food, a great cause, and it’s a lot of fun, too. There was music, contests, family activities, and even a funny “BBQ rap battle” that broke out at the festival with the always entertaining Corbin’s Q crew.

In addition to Digital Hospitality podcast recording, Ben and Sheli Higgins recorded an episode of their Down at Our Rendezvous podcast live from the festival.

“You have gotten us hooked on it. We now feel like family out here,” Sheli Higgins said on the Down at Our Rendezvous podcast.

Here are the top ranked teams for the KCBS Backyard Series competition at #SVBBQFEST.

1st: BZ Fuss
2nd: Heftyboy BBQ
3rd: John’s Sweetfire BBQ
4th: Big John Brand
5th: Cook’s Cookin’
6th: Maynard’s BBQ
7th: Benick’s BBQ
8th: Soak N Smoke BBQ
9th: Double D’s BBQ
10th: BBQ Junkies

BZ Fuss Cooking Team won Grand Champion at the Spring Valley BBQ Festival“It’s an eclectic group of people who care about the cause more than themselves,” Shawn Walchef said about everyone who comes together and participates in the Spring Valley festival every year.

“It’s been a great journey,” Derek Marso said. “It’ll be exciting to see what the future holds.”


Get more details about the annual Spring Valley Tailgate and BBQ Festival on Cali BBQ Media’s website:

Learn more about Valley Farm Market in Spring Valley at:

Order Groceries Online from Valley Farm Market with Mercato:

More info on Wvfrnt Digital Marketing can be found at:

Donate to San Diego Mentors online at:


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