By T. J. ImbergerFestival ChairmanA community is a celebration of its residents and its spirit. This year Barnesville will be celebrating its 10th anniversary of the BBQ & Blues Festival, a unique blend of barbecue, blues, music and events.Originally created by the late Mayor Dewaine T. Bell, councilman Sammie Shropshire, Scott Leverett and Carl Pruett to celebrate the showcasing of Barnesville, the creation of BBQ & Blues was inspired by the uniqueness of Barnesville and its citizens to celebrate their pride in openness, community spirit, family and livability.The past 10 years have been marked by several achievements including designation as a state barbecue championship by the governor, being featured in an episode of BBQ Pitmasters, holding the spot as the largest Florida Barbecue Association professional team cook off in the country for several years along with seeing several of the biggest national cook teams come through Barnesville.Celebrating music and blues was the common thread that began the talks of creating BBQ & Blues.This thread has exposed Barnesville to some of the greatest blues musicians in history ‘“ 2009 Blues Artist of the Year Nick Moss, behind the back guitar yielding Beverly Guitar Watkins and legendary horn player Newton Collier, to just name a few.Exposing Barnesville to great music was a vision of Mayor Bell’s and what a vision it was, a vision that if you were paying attention has brought musicians to Barnesville who have played on every continent in the world, musicians who have been so talented they themselves have played with nearly all of the most historical blues and rhythm and blues musicians you can name or heard of.Two years after our festival began we began presenting the Georgia Music Legend Award. This award is an opportunity to recognize a music legend from Georgia who instilled and carried the spirit of homegrown talent and Southern melody in their soul. This effort was created and led by founder Carl Pruett.Carl himself is a musician who has Southern music in his soul. Throughout his career he has played with and for all of our past Music Legend recipients and so many other music greats the list would be too long to include in this article. The spirit and sounds of music during our festival are kept alive by Carl.This is one of the reasons why Carl along with Robert Lee Coleman will both receive this year’s Georgia Music Legend Award.Barnesville’s appetite for barbecue can be enjoyed throughout the weekend with teams and vendors from throughout the Southeast setting up to make sure your barbecue fix is on. You can also sign up as a team to help capture some of the $11,000 of prize money available.Or you can participate in one of the Friday night community cook off events offered to any member of the public. BBQ & Blues has grown into a community event with the support of fundraising efforts for the local high school soccer teams and cheerleading squads, Relay for Life, the chamber of commerce and The Dewaine T. Bell Scholarship Fund. New events have been added that include a corn hole tournament and your favorite craftsmen and artists from Buggy Days. Music isn’t the only art represented in this year’s festival as The Lamar Arts plein air arts competition and fundraiser continues to grow. The boundless activities can all be viewed at our website bbqandblues.org. Unique opportunities for business involvement continue to be an option for a great festival. Showcase your business in the Business After Hours Golf Cart competition Thursday night or have the chamber assist you in the exploration of many ideas to expose you to the over 10,000 visitors expected in Barnesville during the festival.Anniversaries are meant to be a celebration. This 10th year celebration continues to be strong and growing because of the spirit of this great small Southern town. The ability of our people and business community to come together to host and showcase others is a great commentary on those who live here.Great examples like the support from the beginning of our presenting sponsor United Bank and the undefined cooperation of our local leaders and employees of the city of Barnesville and Lamar County make the effort the envy of other communities, a celebration of countless hours by volunteers and committee members alike who have numbered in the hundreds over the years, a celebration of a community.Join us in being a part of the celebration, see you at the ‘QUE’.