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BBQ & Blues offers up fun!

It is nearly time for one of my favorite annual events – the Barnesville BBQ & Blues Festival. Now in its eighth year, BBQ & Blues has experienced phenomenal growth since its first incarnation when the stage was a large flatbed trailer in an open area next to the county jail and about two dozen cook teams competed. Now, the barbecue competition is one of the most – if not the most – successful in the southeast. As for entertainment, there is an abundance with two stages and music of various genres filling the air with the vast majority of it being free. The cook teams will start rolling in on Thursday, April 26 and I still marvel at strolling among the campers downtown and checking out the huge grills and smokers some of the teams have. Competition barbecuing is a huge sport and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cooking equipment will be on display next week. Walk through at night and, well, it is one big party and most all the teams will let you sample their wares. The festival kicks off Thursday night when United Bank hosts the BBQ & Blues After Hours event at its Main Street location. You can get involved by decorating a golf cart and bringing it to the bank to be judged. On Friday, the incredible, mouth-watering aromas of food begin wafting through the air. You can prepare your favorite recipe for wings, chili, stew, dessert or barbecue sauce and enter the community cook contests for $15. The sauce winner will take home a nice smoker valued at $850. The music begins Friday at 5 p.m. at the barbecue stage located behind the former FNB building near the tax commissioner’s office. There will be a large kids’ park set up next door full of thrills for the children. The Friday night concert is free and features a one-hour set by Commotion and two-hour sets by Frankie’s Blues Mission and Rollin’ Bones with guest performer Roger ‘˜Hurricane’ Wilson. The competition cooking turn ins and People’s Choice awards are Saturday and the show gets underway with more free music at the barbecue stage at 11:30 a.m. The acts include Biscuit, Veronika Jackson and the Pope Collins Blues Band. That night the music shifts to Ritz Park downtown for the main event concert. Tickets are $10. The lineup includes The Melflames, Mark Henson Band, Chick Willis and, for late night dancing and merriment, Crystal and the Cruizers. There is also a Custom Car Show and the presentation of the Georgia Music Legend Award and Bell music scholarship. For loads of laid back, small town fun with a minimum of hassle, you just cannot beat this event. You can get more information by calling 770-358-5884 or by accessing http://www.barnesville.org

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