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Barbecue cooked in sight must be right
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American Bass Anglers
What: Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series
When: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Laurel Park, 3100 Old Cleveland highway, Gainesville
How much: Free; vendors will be on hand for food

A Southern barbecue cookoff and fishing tournament on Lake Lanier this weekend will kick off the spring season.

The Gainesville tournament, hosted by the American Bass Anglers, teamed up with the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau and Y’all Magazine for the event that’s expected to draw thousands of spectators.

“If the weather holds out there could be as many as 15,000 people,” said Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier CVB. “Weather is going to be the big factor, with the rain coming (Wednesday) and Thursday we hope that it will be cleared out.”

Lake Lanier is the first stop on the tournament and barbecue tour, with four other stops to make this season. American Bass Anglers is the largest tournament organization for the weekend fisherman, offering more than 1,000 events across the country. American Bass Anglers also operates the American Fishing Tour and The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series, according to its Web site.

Nearly 200 anglers will head out on the lake at safe light on Saturday, while the other festivities get under way on land at Laurel Park in northern Hall County.

“We’ve got 44 (barbecue) teams and they’re both professional teams as well as backyard teams,” said Debra Talley, national marketing director for American Bass Anglers. “They are from all across the country. We are very excited about that, and we do have a full field; a full field is 30 teams on the pro side and there will be 14 backyard teams from the surrounding area and some are (from) a little away as well.

“We have vendors of all types ... and three of the barbecue cook teams that are vending as well.”

Along with the barbecue cook off there will be the Sweet Tea Challenge sponsored by Y’all Magazine.

That competition is open to individual or commercial contestants.

“If you are an individual, bring 3 gallons and if you are commercial bring 10 gallons,” Talley said. “People can go around to different teams and watch them as they prepare and get everything ready for judging, which is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. We will have some things for kids to do as well.”

The weigh-in starts at 3 p.m. and will take about an hour. Then, at 4 p.m., the winners for the barbecue and sweet tea competitions will be announced.

Last year local winners of the Sweet Tea Challenge were Pat Sheppard of Oakwood for Best Sweet Tea, Steve Dunn of Gainesville for Most Unique Tea and Carolynn Seagers from Gainesville for the Most Tolerable Yankee Tea. In the commercial division, Zaxby’s on Riverside Drive placed first, Scott’s on the Square placed second and Jake’s Cafeteria in Oakwood placed third.  

Locals like Danny Handley’s team, Hook ’em Danno from Gainesville, and Marvin Anderson’s Gold Rush Smokers are just two of the local backyard teams that will compete.

In the professional division, Gainesville’s Bastie Boys lead by Robb Owens will compete along with Dan Dieterle’s Big Green Eggs and Ham team from Dahlonega.

“Well, we plan on being there on Thursday and getting our cook trailer and everything set up,” said Dieterle, owner of Smoking Gold Barbecue in Dahlonega. “They usually do meat inspections Friday morning and after meat inspections we’ll spend most of Friday prepping our meat, getting stuff marinated, because the meat is not allowed to be marinated or seasoned in any way.”

Dieterle said he will start cooking around 11 p.m., get a few hours of sleep and start fresh Saturday morning.  

“I’ll get up about 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning to check the meat that has been cooking and then start putting the ribs and getting the pork wrapped in foil and brisket and getting the ribs put on,” he said.

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