The departure of Beda Johnson as director of Columbia County’s Convention and Visitors Bureau was painful and uncomfortable.
Painful, because she was the only director the fledgling organization has known, and because she was such a tirelessly enthusiastic booster of Columbia County. And it was uncomfortable, because everyone involved remained so tight-lipped, at least publicly, about the philosophical differences that led to her departure. It’s difficult to fix problems if they’re kept secret.
But even in her absence, and in the continued absence of her replacement, Johnson still has helped bring Columbia County a tremendous gift: Banjo-B-Que.
Christy Beckham, of AB Beverage Co. in Evans, credits Johnson with persuading the organizers of the two-day barbecue and music festival to move across the river from North Augusta to Towne Center Park for its third year.
“She’s the one who reached out to me about moving it,” Beckham said of Johnson. “She was the head-hunter, really, in pulling us over.”
Sure, there were some issues with the previous location that made a move attractive. But in this case, it also helped that someone asked. Johnson deserves credit for that.
So, what is Columbia County getting? In its third year and just starting to hit its groove, Banjo-B-Que features a nationally sanctioned barbecue cookoff accompanied by two days of family friendly music. It all benefits the Joseph R. Pond Memorial Foundation, named for the late owner of AB Beverage. The foundation donates to local charities through the CSRA Community Foundation.
The late Bobby Waters, also a tireless booster of Columbia County, first brought a nationally sanctioned barbecue contest to Columbia County nearly 10 years ago. That effort, tied to a smaller sanctioning body, was just starting to get off the ground when Waters unexpectedly died of a heart attack. His death was a tremendous loss, and sadly the event also died with him.
Banjo-B-Que, then, not only is an opportunity for Columbia County to celebrate a terrific event, but it’s also a tribute to people such as Pond and Waters who worked so hard to improve our community.
The event takes place May 25-26, and you will not want to miss it.