BBQ, music festival around cornerPublished 5:35pm Friday, June 1, 2012
The Blue Ridge Barbecue and Music Festival, set for Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9, stands just a year away from a big milestone – its 20th anniversary.
That means for two decades now the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce has diligently worked to pull together the state’s signature barbecue competition.
“This is our 19th year and we are very excited because the weather forecast is looking good. Plus we have free admission for the first three hours Friday, an excellent craft fair lined up, excellent entertainment and of course some of the best cook teams in the country,” said Carolina Foothills Chamber President Janet Sciacca. “We’re preparing for large crowds because of the fact that there has been so much publicity for the event this year. We have WSPA Channel 7 doing a great job helping us counting down the days until the festival.”
Channel 7 will be airing live shots from Harmon Field every half hour beginning at 6 a.m. Friday and will continue to do so through the “Scene on 7” feature Friday night.
Enthusiastic about making this year exciting for attendees, organizers began prepping months ago to bring state-championship-worthy barbecue and family-friendly entertainment to the Tryon area.
Preparations for the festival’s big weekend can take time.
Tryon Interim Town Manager Joey Davis said Harmon Field would be closed to visitors beginning Wednesday, June 6.
This year a new staging and tenting company will move in as early as Wednesday with tractor trailers full of equipment and gear. They will be followed by rides for the kids’ amusement area and vendors setting up to offer a variety of foods, crafts and more.
Cookers will also arrive as early as Thursday to be set up and ready by Friday morning for meat inspections. Depending on what each team is cooking and what competitions they plan to enter, they may fire up their smokers shortly thereafter.
Only authorized personnel will be allowed into Harmon Field between Wednesday and when the event opens Friday.
When the gates do open at 11 a.m. on Friday, attendees get to enjoy free admission until 2 p.m. that afternoon. Festival chairman Chuck Britton said this change in admission was set to allow more people to come out and enjoy the event.
Those who attend the festival Friday will get to enjoy an array of entertainment starting at 12:45 p.m. with the opening ceremony on the main stage.
Following the ceremony, the Aaron Burdett Band will take the stage at 2 p.m. Also performing on the main stage will be the Flea Market Hustlers, Silver Travis, Sol Driven Train and Friday night headliners Acoustic Syndicate at 9 p.m. (see article page 8).
On the Riverside Stage, event-goers can enjoy the SDT Kid’s Show at 1 p.m., followed by Noah Stockdale, the Country Spirit Band and The Danberrys.
Saturday’s opening ceremony will be held at 11:45 a.m. on the main stage with Dance at noon, the Tryon Music Review at 1:30 p.m., The Danberrys at 3 p.m., Flannel Church at 4:30 p.m., The Black Lillies at 6 p.m., The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker at 7:45 p.m. and the Lee Boys at 9:30 p.m. to close out the evening.
Also on the Riverside Stage, you can catch Jack Roper’s Magic Show, Matthew “MJ” Milam, Wink and Friends, Aaron Burdett, Speedwell and Project X. For a complete list of times, see the Bulletin’s special edition on Friday, June 8.
Of course, throughout both days attendees can walk through Hog Heaven to watch the cookers at work, buy kids’ armbands to enjoy rides, grab plates of a variety of foods and peruse arts and crafts vendors’ booths.
Many people get to enjoy the festival free each year by offering four hours of their time volunteering to make the event happen. Britton said organizers worked into late hour evenings last week preparing volunteer packets to go out to the hundreds of eager volunteers.
“It’s a big team effort – we couldn’t do it at all if it weren’t for these volunteers,” said Britton. “About 350 volunteers will assist with set-up crew on Wednesday and Thursday, while others on Friday and Saturday will man soda and water booths, manage beer and wine areas and help with trash pick-up. We’ve got more than 50 people alone that will help with parking.”
Volunteers are also indispensable in the clean-up needed after upward of 15,000 visitors flock to Harmon Field over the two days. Volunteers are needed Sunday, June 10 to assist with clean-up of Harmon Field. Crews will meet at 9 a.m. at the old concession stand by the river to scavenge for any leftover items of garbage.
“The rules are simple,” said Sciacca. “We pick up everything that is not a blade of grass. The chamber takes pride in cleaning up Harmon Field immediately after the festival and we appreciate the support we receive from our community.”
All volunteers will be offered gloves, of course, along with garbage bags, cold drinks and other refreshments.