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Think you can brew the best sweet tea?
Serve it up for the judges Saturday
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Spring Chicken Festival and Chicken City Cook-off
Chicken cook-off, plus Sweet Tea Challenge, live music and family activities to benefit Keep Hall Beautiful
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Chicken cook-off is at Roosevelt Square, children's activities are on the downtown Gainesville square
How much: $8 for a wristband for chicken tastings; other events free

Jennifer Miller says sweet tea is the house wine of the South.

And so, the Sweet Tea Challenge was created.

Anyone can enter the competition, taking place this Saturday during the Spring Chicken Festival in Gainesville. It runs alongside the contest for the best chicken dish, although those entrants must register in advance.

"This is a great way to showcase all the different ways of making sweet tea," Miller said. "It's the only sweet tea challenge in the state of Georgia."

Miller, sales manager for the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, helped coordinate the Sweet Tea Challenge with Y'all magazine.

There will be four awards given out by four local judges, including best commercial tea, which is open to any restaurant; best individual tea, open to any home cook; the most unique tea, which is open to anyone, and the best Yankee tea - or, most tolerable unsweet tea. The most tolerable unsweet tea division was started last year for the Gainesville challenge.

"We started the Sweet Tea Challenge in 2005, and Starkville, Miss., was the first place," said Keith Sisson, associate publisher of Y'all. "There are very few things that are as uniquely Southern as sweet tea."

About 50 contestants showed up to the magazine's first competition, he said.

"We don't have a set format that each event has to be exactly the same, so we allow each community to customize the event in whichever way works the best to accommodate the local festival that we are a part of."

The tea must be delivered by 10 a.m. Saturday to the Y'all magazine tent at Roosevelt Square, behind the Georgia Mountains Center in downtown Gainesville.

Judging begins after all teas have been submitted, and winners will be announced later in the afternoon. Winners in each category will receive two first-class, round-trip Amtrak tickets.

Local restaurants signed up as of Tuesday were The Collegiate, The Daily News Diner, Scott's on the Square and Zaxby's on Riverside Drive, all in Gainesville.

"We usually take six in the professional division, it's just a nice and even number, but ... it's still open for other restaurants," Miller said.

Sisson said through the years he has seen some interesting teas across the South at different Sweet Tea Challenges.

"I have seen tea where they have used brown sugar to do the sweetener, I have seen tea where they have used honey to be the sweetener," Sisson said. "We have had some of our flavored teas have been brewed with some sort of fruit juice. ... Some of the best, unique teas that I have seen had chunks of fruit."

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