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A decade of BBQ & Blues: Top 10 events

By Walter Geiger They say time flies when you are having fun and BBQ & Blues is definitely a fun-filled event but it is still hard to believe the festival is celebrating its 10th birthday this weekend. The festival begins Thursday with the after hours/kickoff event at United Bank from 5-7 p.m. but cook team trucks hauling campers and elaborate grill rigs will start arriving earlier so get ready to pig out and party. In honor of the 10th anniversary of what is rapidly becoming the community’s signature event, here are the top 10 things you need to take part in this weekend. 10: Kids Park: If you are the parent of younger children, this may well be #1 on your list. The kids park will be located in the United Bank parking lot off Main Street. Expect inflatables, bungee jumping, rock climbing walls, etc. Perfect for putting a smile on your child’s face and working up his or her appetite for a BBQ lunch or dinner. Open 5-9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday. 9: Grill raffle: Deck-em Pest Services is sponsoring this raffle. The prize is a Kamado Joe Jr. smoker. This raffle benefits the LCCHS soccer programs. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. See any soccer player, coach or parent. 8: Sauce contest: It’s simple. You prepare your barbecue sauce and bring it to town Friday night. The sauce does not have to be prepared on site. The judging will be conducted at 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. If you win, you get a $900 Kamado Joe smoker. This event is sponsored by Campbell’s Lawn Equipment. Entry fee is $20. Note: You can also enter your chili, wings or dessert in the community cook off Friday night. Details at 7: Car show: The Smokin’ Wheels Car Show is sponsored by Stuckey’s Chevrolet. It will run from 6-9 p.m. Friday at the United Bank parking lot. It is open to antique or custom cars, trucks, motorcycles or tractors. Enter online or onsite. Free admission for the public. 6: People’s choice: Your opportunity to taste competition barbecue. You get 24 samples of cook team fare to savor and judge for yourself. This can be your lunch or dinner. Cost is $10. Sponsored by Hudson Specialty Group, Inc. Opens at 11 a.m. Saturday. 5: Cornhole tournament: This game, which is a tailgate party staple, is growing in popularity. Test your skill with a teammate starting at 5 p.m. Friday. First prize is $250 in cash. Second place gets a set of custom made cornhole boards. Entry fee for this event, sponsored by Angels of Hope Hospice, is $15. 4: Saturday concert: Free music at the BBQ stage located behind the old FNB building from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, featuring bluesman Clarence Thunderburke, Dr. Dixon Ph.D – The Blues Physician and local favorites the Melflames. The perfect place to get your groove on for Saturday night’s big Ritz Park show. 3: Kickoff party: The kickoff party at United Bank, the presenting sponsor of BBQ & Blues, is the largest after hours event the chamber of commerce throws each year. Come meet the UB girls (and guys), cook team members, festival volunteers, musicians, locals and various, eclectic hangers-on. Plenty of food, fun and fellowship. A golf cart decorating contest will also be be held during After Hours. This event takes place at the United Bank Main Street office Thursday from 5-7 p.m. and it’s free. 2: Friday concert: More free music at the barbecue stage from 5-10:30 p.m. Friday. Enjoy blues offered up by Ross Pead, Muddy Guy and the Loose Change Band. During breaks, stroll through the cook team areas and savor the aroma of meat on the smokers. Visit the vendors who will offer up barbecue and all the trimmings. There will also be a few select crafters at this year’s event. Many locals deem this the festival’s top event due to the laid back atmosphere and family reunion vibe. 1: Ritz Park concert. This is the signature event of the festival and it is a bargain for $10. There will be beer, wine and barbecue along with music by Veronika Jackson, blues legend Robert Lee Coleman and The Crossroads Band. Georgia Music Legend awards will be bestowed upon Coleman and Carl Pruett, festival cofounder and frontman for Crossroads. Past winners Alan Walden, Eddie Tigner and Newton Collier will be on hand. Collier, who played with Sam & Dave among others, and Tigner, of Ink Spots fames, will join in an all-star jam session. There is no telling who else may take the stage. Also on the bill is the presentation of the Dewaine T. Bell memorial music scholarship. Bell, past mayor of Barnesville, former high school principal and band director, was the driving force behind the founding of BBQ & Blues. Bell died in October, 2007. After the awards and jam session, The Conquest Band of Macon will take the stage and supply the funk for a late night dance party. This event takes place at the Ritz Park amphitheater. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Bring your lawn chair or blanket. Enjoy these events. Most of all, take the opportunity to taste some fantastic barbecue or enter your own culinary treats. If you are so inclined, you can enter a cook team and go for the big prize money. Event chairman T.J. Imberger also needs more volunteers for this mammoth effort. If you are interested or simply want more information, call the chamber office at 770-358-5884.

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