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Cue up the sauce
Grilling pros fire up the competition in Cornelia
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Cornelia Apple Blossom BBQ Festival

When: 5-9 p.m. April 20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 21

Where: downtown Cornelia

How much: Free to attend; barbecue and other food items for sale

More info: www.explorecornelia.com, 706-778-8585, ext. 280

If you have a taste for a little spicy "cue" this weekend, Cornelia is the place to be.

The Habersham County town will hold its inaugural Cornelia Apple Blossom BBQ Festival from 5-9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday downtown.

The professional event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, and the first contest in the 2012 Georgia BBQ Championship Series as a qualifier for the state championship. It will also feature a small amateur competition.

The contest has also been proclaimed a state championship by Gov. Nathan Deal, meaning the winner of the pro contest will qualify for the World Series of BBQ-The American Royal Invitational Contest this fall in St. Louis.

Thirty-six of the top professional barbecue teams in the Southeast will compete in four categories: chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. The amateur contest will include divisions for chicken and ribs.

Some of the teams taking part have been featured on the Food Network and BBQ Pit Masters. They are competing for the title of champion and a prize pot of almost $7,000.

A contest judging sauce only is open to both pro and amateur teams.

Visitors can enjoy plenty of free entertainment with their saucy dishes. Friday night is Karaoke & Pickin’ at the Apple monument, open to everyone. Saturday, a Battle of the Bands will take place at the Depot, with the winner competing for a spot as the opening act for the national recording artist playing at the 25th annual Big Red Apple Festival in October.

At noon Saturday, Arthur Atsma will perform a magic act tied in with the Georgia Cities Week theme of "The Magic of Cities."

The barbecue and other food will be on sale, along with a beer garden. The Better Hometown will operate a barbecue-tasting tent, featuring competition-style BBQ samplings from the teams on sale as long as supplies last.

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