Hillbilly Hog Barbecue Throwdown and Fall Leaf Festival
When: 5-9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: BabyLand General Hospital, 300 N.O.K. Drive, Cleveland
Cost: $5; parking free
BabyLand General Hospital in Cleveland is widely known to be a great local attraction for kids, but the Cabbage Patch will host the “Swamp People” this weekend.
The 2013 Hillbilly Hog Barbecue Throwdown and Fall Leaf Festival will celebrate its fifth year with Troy Landry and Brandon Hotard from the History Channel’s popular TV show joining the event. To taste the food and meet the celebrities, a Greet and Eat package is available for $50.
Of course, the main event will be the barbecue competition, with 61 teams coming to Cleveland to “throw down” against each other. Some of these are the highest ranked teams in the United States. The competition is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, which will provide the professional judges.
Anyone wanting to take advantage of the top barbecue teams in the country can join the People’s Choice Pulled Pork Contest starting at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Visitors also may delight in barbecue-flavored food Friday night. The Friday Night Wing Challenge from 7-9 p.m. will give teams the opportunity to hand out samples of their wings for free to visitors. Votes will be taken for the “King of Wings” title.
For even more barbecue delight, this year the festival will offer the BBQ Pit Pass. Those who wish to try the barbecue may purchase a pass for an additional $5 by calling 706-809-0139. This allows VIP access to the professional teams’ sites. Pit Pass holders may talk with the barbecue pros about their work and, best of all, sample it.
For small and younger visitors, the life-sized Cabbage Patch Kids will be on hand to meet children, who can also participate in the Kid’s Q barbecue event, Piglet Playland and Corn Box Fun. And with Halloween around the corner, children can get an early start with the spooky-themed activities available.
Organizer Heather Sinyard said this year’s event is expected to draw thousands more than previous years because of the free admission Friday, extra advertising and the TV cast.
“We average about 3,000 (people),” Sinyard said. “But with adding the ‘Swamp People’ and the additional teams and doing more advertising, we’re hoping to ... double that, at least.”
Friday will also feature a free outdoor screening of the film “Turbo,” and children are invited to play in the Kid Zone with the purchase of an unlimited play arm band for $5.
Already a full event, featuring arts, crafts and merchant vendors, the festival will feature a full entertainment stage line-up with Gina Gailey, The John King Band and Shoal Creek in concert this weekend.
Funds raised will go toward the United Way of White County.
Parking is free. Admission is $5 on Saturday for those older than 10.