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A friendly head-to-head BBQ competition

for the benefit of the Hiawatha national forest.

Sunday, august 7, 2022 - 4pm

Gladstone Sports park Ski Chalet

We bring the BBQ.
You bring the beverages.
Sunshine, summer breeze, and the best view
in Delta County courtesy of Mother Nature.


Meet the competitors


Sam Reese

A resident of Gladstone, Sam moved to the U.P. to open Upper Hand Brewery in 2014.  He has been a professional brewer for 15 years, initially with Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI, as well as Abita Brewing in the outskirts of New Orleans, Louisiana.


A self-described "obsessive hobbyist," Sam is an avid home cook and amateur food photographer.  Fire on the Mountain will mark his first time serving BBQ to more than backyard full of people.

Sam continues to experiment with fermentation (and tons of other food preservation techniques) outside of work in his home kitchen and garden.  Most notably, Sam ferments, blends, and bottles hot sauce in increasingly ridiculous quantities every holiday season, donating 100% of the proceeds to Delta County non-profits (including Common Coast, last year's hot sauce beneficiary and non-profit partner to Fire on the Mountain).

In the 5% of his free time not spent cooking, eating, or reading about cooking & eating, Sam enjoys traveling, motorcycling, and truck-bed camping with his loyal pup Valerie.

Favorite BBQ meat: Beef short ribs

Favorite BBQ side: I want to say collard greens, but I can't say no to mac & cheese.

Preferred BBQ beverage: Upper Hand Trek Light, a bourbon slushie, and lots of water.

Best BBQ you ever had: Feast BBQ in Louisville.  It was like an out-of-body experience.  Everything is so perfectly done.

Favorite regional BBQ style: I'm most excited about what they're doing in the Texas borderlands with Mexican influence.  Beef cheek tamales!  Smoked pork fat tortillas!  Carnitas tacos!

Best album to smoke to: Probably Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Director, Upper Hand Brewery

Founder, Bird Arms, Chili Advocacy & Hiawatha Preserves Hot Sauces


Paul Holeva

Currently residing in Ishpeming, Paul moved to the U.P. in 2016 to join the Hiawatha National Forest as their Recreation and Lands Program Manager.  Before that, he served as a Research Scientist and Program Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  With the Corps, Paul focused heavily on the integration of human, social, cultural, and behavioral factors into the military decision-making process, and better integration of human-centric design into base planning to support psychological recovery for soldiers suffering from sustained and traumatic stressors.  As a member of the Forest Service, Paul continues to promote the importance of human-environmental interaction by supporting sustainable access to a wide variety of recreational activities and experiences across the forest.


As a social scientist, Paul is also passionate about community development and the important role that food can play when bringing people together. In 2020, Paul and his partner Janelle established a small catering business called Bearded Lady Creations, focusing on 100% wood-smoked and live fire barbecue.  Inspired by his competitor Sam's creativity and generosity, BLC is actively focused on fundraising opportunities to support local community efforts across the U.P.


When not working or cooking, Paul enjoys live music, craft beer, and spending time with his wonderful family, including Janelle, his daughters Aurora and Luna, and a herd of shaggy doodles and “tiny dinosaurs” (aka chickens).


Favorite BBQ meat: Bacon-wrapped chicken cordon bleu

Favorite BBQ side: Smoked mac & cheese

Preferred BBQ beverage: My process starts early in the morning, so coffee and water are a must.  When it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labor, it’s hard to beat a well-aged Flanders Red/Oud Bruin with red meats, or a Belgian Gold/Brett Saison with white meats.

Best BBQ you ever had: I stumbled across a single woman slinging fried chicken and southern sides in a Mississippi truck stop on my way down to New Orleans in 2005.  I still dream about that meal to this day.  A close second was spareribs from the Smokeshack in Fort Washington, MD.  That was a weekly stop for me when I lived in the area.

Favorite regional BBQ style: U.P.-style. It’s up and coming; keep an eye out...

Best album to smoke to: I usually start with classic jazz while I’m prepping in the kitchen, then move into Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury as I load the smoker, followed by a mix of blues rock and whatever else the Spotify universe blesses me with along the journey.

Recreation & Lands Program Manager, Hiawatha national forest

Owner & pitmaster, Bearded Lady Creations

BBQ for the BIRDS

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100% of the proceeds from fire on the mountain

are donated to common coast research & conservation.

Common Coast is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and protection of Great Lakes migratory birds and the lands and the waters upon which they depend.

For over 20 years CCRC has led efforts to protect conservation-dependent species such as the Common Loon, Purple Martin, and Black Tern in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In addition, CCRC partners to addresses emerging issues related to invasive species and disease outbreaks through monitoring and research.

Joe Kaplan is a co-founder of Common Coast Research & Conservation, an Upper Peninsula-based non-profit organization that specializes in migratory bird conservation.  Joe has dedicated his career to conservation and enjoys engaging and sharing with others his passion for birds, habitat, and preservation.


His career journey has included working as a former director of the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (Chippewa County), where his tireless advocacy for the Point’s unique value for birds and people were instrumental in securing an extension of the Seney National Wildlife Refuge.  Joe is also responsible for establishing and stabilizing the 93-acre Manitou Island Light Station Preserve—Whitefish Point's sister light—through the Keweenaw Land Trust.


Today, Joe lives in Delta County with his wife, Chris, and their two dogs on property protected in perpetuity for conservation.  He coordinates the Escanaba Migratory Bird Enhancement Initiative, which endeavors to restore and establish native habitat for migratory and breeding birds in the city's waterfront parks.  Joe and Common Coast’s latest venture is enhancing native habitat for birds and butterflies at Peninsula Point in the Hiawatha National Forest, a world-class stopover area during the spring and fall migrations.  

Joe Kaplan

Co-Founder, Common Coast Research & Conservation

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Photo courtesy of

An extra special thanks

to Gladstone Parks & Recreation for their contributions & Support.

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