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37th Columbus Fire Dept. BBQ, Gospel Sing begins Tuesday

The event, held at Veterans Memorial Park on Ward Street, across from the Columbus Fire Department, includes BBQ, hot dogs and hamburgers provided by the fire department. A patriotic grand finale, supported by the Polk Baptist Association, is scheduled at around 10 p.m. Friday. Admission is free and a live broadcast will be available each night on WJFJ Radio 1160.

The event was started in 1973 when the local fire department and a local pastor Wesley Price of Midway Baptist Church decided to organize a fundraiser for the fire department featuring local gospel groups and BBQ in downtown Columbus during the four days before July 4th.

The event continued on and continued to grow even after Price was called away to another area to pastor, turning the music coordination duties over to then police chief Billy Stepp of the Columbus Police Department.

The fire department volunteers provided the BBQ, hot dogs and hamburgers, helping to make the event one not to miss for 37 years.

Many today make the event an annual part of their fourth of July holiday. Crowds have averaged from 700 to 1,000 each night. Audiences make their way from Polk County and a dozen surrounding counties to enjoy not only local groups, but some of gospel music&squo;s legends and charter toppers of today.

Following Bill Stepp&squo;s recent retirement from the event, local radio personality James Metcalf of WJFJ radio in Columbus has taken over the music part of the event, as well as publicity, while Columbus Fire Chief Geoff Tennant and his army of volunteers prepare slow-cooked BBQ, hot dogs, hamburgers and all the trimmings.

This year&squo;s event starts on Tuesday night, June 30 and continues until Friday, July 3. In case of rain, the event will be held at Columbus Baptist Church.Below is the 2009 BBQ and Gospel Sing music lineup

Tuesday, June 30

Bluegrass night

The Watkins Family

A multiple award nominated bluegrass gospel group from the Toccoa, Georgia area. The group has received several nominations in the bluegrass gospel genre over the last few years and their current national single being played over the airwaves is &dquo;She&squo;s Working On Her Testimony.&dquo;

The King James Boys

A Cowpens-based bluegrass group who are well known in the South and receive extensive radio airplay.

The Green River Boys

A local favorite based in Saluda who have been singing and playing for the last 10 years. This is their eighth and final year at the Columbus Sing since the group will be retiring in the coming months.

The Soldiers for the Cross

A local group based out of the Sunny View area, featuring Homestyle harmony and musicianship.Wednesday, July 1

The Jimmy Justice Family

A local Hendersonville based family group who have also been around for 36 years featuring nearly a half dozen instruments and a dozen vocalists. The Justice family has had several charting songs including this year&squo;s release, &dquo;Hallelujah,&dquo; which is at number 88 on the gospel voice top 100 chart for June 2009.

Masterpraise

A Rutherford County based trio featuring vocals from Ron Epley and Keith Cantrell with original and all time gospel favorites.

The Masters Singers

A Chesnee based trio that has appeared at the Columbus Sing nearly 30 times in the last 36 years.

It Takes Three

A Green Creek based husband and wife duo featuring Charles and Betty Milam.

The Foothills Mennonite Youth Choir

Based out of the Foothills Church near Green Creek, this choir is embarking on a national tour this year across several states.Thursday, July 2

The Melody Trio

A Roan Mountain Tennessee-based group which is credited with one of gospel music&squo;s biggest songs in the 1990&squo;s, &dquo;So Much to Thank Him For.&dquo; It remained on the southern gospel&bsp; charts for nearly a year and a half in 1995-1996. Several other songs including, &dquo;I know I&squo;m Saved, Poor As A Beggar,&dquo; have hit the top 40 gospel charts in the past.

Wells of Joy

A group from Travelers Rest made up of former storehouse members, country gospel singing and picking at its best from Travelers Rest

The Foothills Boys

A southern gospel male quartet with piano and bass guitar, playing and singing good old favorites.

The Bates Family

A southern gospel family trio from the great state of Virginia, the Bates Family has had several southern gospel charting songs including, &dquo;The Lighthouse Still Stands,&dquo; and &dquo;The Song of the Redeemed.&dquo;Friday, July 3

Naomi and the Segos

A gospel music legend, member of the southern gospel music Hall of Fame in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Seventy-eight-year-old Naomi has been singing over 50 years professionally and was the first gospel artist to have a million selling single with the song, &dquo;Sorry I never knew you.&dquo;

Mike Upright

A man whose voice has been heard on nearly 20 top 40 gospel songs, including &dquo;Winner Either Way,&dquo; &dquo;But for the Blood,&dquo; &dquo;The Gate,&dquo; God Saves Old Sinners,&dquo; and his recent single on the chart, &dquo;When I Lay My Isaac Down.&dquo;

The Phillips Family

This popular family quartet based out of Gaffney will be stopping in Columbus before heading out to a Texas booking. The Phillips family is heard across the nation on radio stations with their many hit songs, including, &dquo;I Made It By Grace.&dquo;

The Atkins Family

A Greer based group who travel across the south with great vocals, and a wonderful personality. The Atkins Family has also had several national releases.

Brian Burchfield

A singer songwriter from eastern Tennessee who has written several nationally known songs and is very popular here as a singer as well.&bsp;