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Brenau campus heats up this weekend for annual barbecue championship
Lonnie Smith of Bubba Grills shows off to the judges as he piles smoked pork on a carving board during the whole hog competition during last year’s Brenau Barbecue Championship. - photo by File photo

Brenau Barbecue
Preview party and concert
5 p.m. Friday
Where: Brenau University Amphitheater, Washington and Prior streets, Gainesville
How much: $10


Brenau Barbecue Championship
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Brenau University, 500 Washington St., Gainesville
How much: $5, kids 10 and under free
Tickets: Now on sale at Brenau's John S. Burd Center, 429 Academy St., Gainesville

Poultry may be king locally, but this weekend all eyes will be on another barnyard staple during the third annual Brenau Barbecue Championship.

On Friday and Saturday, the local favorite will have to share its throne with the pig as professional cooking teams from all over the Southeast take to Brenau University’s lawn to show off their barbecuing prowess.

The teams will be competing in four different categories: whole hog, ribs, Boston butt and shoulder.

"This has become a must-attend event. We’re anticipating having good weather, so we’ll probably see 5,000 people or more," said Jim Barco, Brenau’s senior vice president for institutional development and the barbecue championship director.

"We have attracted 12 cooking teams. One is a past world champion, one is the president of the Florida Barbecue Association and one has won a Georgia state championship."

In addition to the barbecue cook-off, the event also includes a children’s play area and an opening night concert at the Brenau Amphitheater featuring The Musselwhite family, Kimberly Clark and a number of other performers from the John Jarrard Foundation program.

Gates to the concert open at 5 p.m. Friday. Admission is $10.

In addition to trying a few barbecue samples from the professionals, attendees can also look forward to enjoying a market of vendors selling custom jewelry, baked goods and even specialty seasoning rubs.

"Our vendors will have stuff that you just can’t find in stores," Barco said.

"There will be all kinds of crafts, cut soaps, kids toys and clothes. There will also be incredible barbecue for sale."

The championship festival opens at 10 a.m. Saturday. Admission is $5 per person. Kids ages 10 and younger are admitted free.

Ticket sales and other revenue go toward the university’s scholarship fund that benefits students from Gainesville and Hall County.

"One of our principles is for students to have a world vision. Because of that, we attract students from all over the world, but we also understand that a world vision begins from your front porch," Barco said.

"We want to make sure that we are supporting our local students because more than likely, those are the students who are going to stay in our community."