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BBQ & Blues to go national; Alford takes chairmanship

By Diana New Big changes are in the works for next year’s BBQ & Blues Festival, with the board’s decision to join the world’s largest organization of BBQ and grilling enthusiasts by becoming a member of the Kansas City BBQ Society. KCBS is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue. It has more than 20,000 members and sanctions more than 500 barbecue contests world wide. This organization promises to be a step up from the Florida BBQ Association with their 800 members and sanctioning of more than 30 contests a year across five states. KCBS is a larger organization that continues to grow every year and is expected to help with the expanding of the BBQ & Blues Festival. ’At one time, BBQ & Blues was the biggest FBA competition in the country,’ event logistics coordinator T.J. Imberger explained. ‘Our goal is to expand the festival with KCBS and make it into the largest barbecue competition in Georgia with an expectation of over 60 teams. We also hope to bring back the festival’s heritage and provide an atmosphere that citizens will enjoy.’ KCBS sanctions BBQ and Grilling contests across the nation and promotes barbecue as America’s cuisine with an extensive certified judging program. Most of BBQ & Blues’ judges and cook teams from previous years are already members of KCBS. Since it is a national organization that is widely recognized, it will allow for a smooth transition from FBA. ’There is an element of excitement in transitioning to be a part of something so big,’ Imberger said. ‘There will be teams coming in from all over the country.’ With teams and judges coming in from all over, not only will the festival have a chance to expand, but it will also promote tourism in Barnesville. ’We are going to try and put Barnesville on the map with this festival and refocus it to center around the barbecue competition while making it accessible to all citizens. We look forward to continuing a positive relationship with the city, because as always, without them, none of this would be possible,’ Imberger reflected. Besides transitioning to KCBS, the festival’s board has made further changes while seeking to expand their event, including appointing a new festival chairman. ’I want to thank Tim Rooks for serving as festival chair for the past two years,’ Imberger acknowledged. ’A lot is put into these festivals and he did a wonderful job in holding BBQ & Blues together. Though he will be missed, I am pleased to announce Tracey Alford as our new festival chairman.’ With Alford’s recent success in heading Milner’s Pecan Festival the board was thrilled when she accepted their offer to become the new chairman for BBQ & Blues. ’I’m looking forward to the working with Jessica, T.J. and the other chamber members,’ Alford said. ‘I am really excited about the new position and I hope that I can meet everyone’s expectations and carry BBQ & Blues to a new level.’ Other changes being made to revamp the festival include changes in merchandise and festival music and the expansion of the car show. According to Imberger, Tim Cherry has done a fantastic job in his previous efforts to expand the car show while doubling the amount of participants in a year’s time. ’I look forward to seeing how much Tim will be able to expand the show with the prospected growth of the festival,’ Imberger said.

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