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Barbecue teams compete for bragging rights
Erett Odem turns a rack of ribs during last year’s Brenau Barbecue and Banjos event. This year’s event, dubbed the Brenau Barbecue Championship, kicks off Friday with a preview party. - photo by Tom Reed

Brenau Barbecue Championship
Barbecue cook off and community festival
When: 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Brenau University, 500 Washington St., Gainesville
How much: $10 preview party Friday; $5 Saturday

In just a few days the smell of whole hogs, Boston butts, ribs and chicken on the smoker will fill the air around the Brenau University campus.

Last year’s barbecue competition at Brenau University was such a huge success, organizers are expecting double the participants and attendees plus even more events for the whole family to enjoy. Dubbed the Brenau Barbecue Championship, the cooking starts Friday and continues Saturday.

"We have two priorities: For this event to raise money ... and it is my contention that healthy communities have great events like this," said Jim Barco, Brenau Barbecue Championship director and senior vice president of institutional development at Brenau.

The barbecue championship was created to raised money to provide scholarships to Brenau for Gainesville and Hall County students, and in the first year the school raised more than $20,000.

Events begin Friday with a preview party at the Brenau amphitheater that will feature musicians Kimberly Clark and Jimmy Buffett tribute band, Sons of the Sailor. Author Lauretta Hannon will do readings in between music. Entertainment on Saturday will include Allen Nivens and others.

There also will be plenty of activities for children provided by the Quinlan Visual Arts Center and the Interactive Neighborhood for Kids museum, along with inflatables and temporary tattoos.

"All the mothers will be aghast with the fact that their children can get temporary tattoos on Brenau’s campus," said Barco, with a chuckle.

A new event Saturday will be an antique car show, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., which will feature classic cars and a live DJ, Duane Fry playing oldies, country and rock ’n’ roll.

The barbecue cook off, which is sanctioned by the Memphis Barbecue Network, includes 20 of the Southeast’s professionals competing alongside 25 amateur teams.

Ben Hawkins, a member of The Basty Boys, an amateur Backyard Braggarts competitor, said his team decided to enter the cook-off again because of how much fun they had last year.

"We thought it was one of the best events that we had ever been to in Gainesville," said Hawkins, who said they would be entering Boston butts and ribs. "There was great atmosphere ... truely a hometown event."

There will be barbecue available for purchase provided by Myron Mixon of Jack’s Old South in Unadilla, among others. Some barbecue may be available after the judging, but it is up to the teams to decide.

Barco said this year all the competitors will compete in a site appearance award, where they will dress up and decorate their barbecue area.

"It makes the whole campus looks festive, and people are out for blood on that one," Barco said.

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