Smoke on the Water will go on as scheduled|Downtown groups,others are workingto preserve festival

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2009

By By MIKE VOSS Contributing Editor
Although the main organizer for Smoke on the Water died in a tragic accident last week, the downtown Washington festival will go on next month.
Community leaders, downtown business owners, city officials and representatives of organizations like the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, Beaufort County Arts Council and Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce met Monday to divide up festival duties mostly taken care of by Gary Tomasulo in the past. Tomasulo, president of the merchants group, died Sept. 7 after falling from a fire escape.
“I’m happy, really happy,” said Tomasulo’s widow, Marie, when she learned Smoke on the Water will continue, something her late husband would have wanted.
The Tomasulo family wanted the festival to go on, she added.
“We hoped with all the things that Gary did that someone would take over,” she said.
Fourteen people met at the Washington Visitor Center to makes plans for the festival. Lynn Lewis, the city’s tourism-development director, set up the meeting.
Bob Martin, representing The Meeting Place restaurant and who worked with Tomasulo on previous Smoke on the Water festivals, agreed that Tomasulo would want the festival to continue.
“I made a commitment to Marie that Smoke on the Water would proceed this year,” Martin said. “We’re all working together.”
Ross Hamory, DWOW president, has similar feelings.
“That’s the theme. We’re all pulling together,” he said.
This year’s Smoke on the Water is set for Oct. 23-24. Pig-cookers for the event arrive the afternoon of Oct. 23 to set up their cooking stations, with the judging for the barbecue competition set for the morning of Oct. 24. The festival’s chili contest will be held the evening of Oct. 23, with some pig cookers expected to enter that contest, too. Judging for the showmanship component of the barbecue contest will take place the evening of Oct. 23.
Additional details about this year’s Smoke on the Water will be published when they are finalized.
Music in the Streets, another festival with which Tomasulo was involved as a key organizer, also will continue this year with this month’s event set for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.