Huge crowd expected at 2011 Downtown BBQ Fest

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - People from across the mid-south made their way to Jonesboro this weekend hoping to win bragging rights for their bar-b-q. Over 60 teams are competing in the third annual Downtown Bar-b-q Fest and these grillers, they mean business.

Teams started rolling in bright and early Friday morning, and spent the day making sure their bar-b-q was on point for the big dance Saturday.

"Just making sure we have all of our temperatures intact today. So, hopefully it will be perfect for tomorrow," said Brian Browning, who is competing this weekend.

But they weren't the only ones getting ready. Businesses all down Main Street were making preparations of their own.

"I expect it to be a very lively weekend," said Dana Carlton, a manager at Skinny J's downtown, who plans to have all hands on deck.

"We've made sure all of our supplies are in order. We made sure all of our staff is going to be here. We're going to have a few extras,' said Carlton.

This is the third year for the festival and the first year to be Kansas City Sanctioned. Jack Turner is orchestrating this years event. He says considering the number of teams have nearly tripled since 2009, the impact doesn't go unnoticed.

"It's huge for Jonesboro's economy, but it also puts us on the map. Jonesboro now has a festival. These people are staying in the hotels, buying gas. The cooks are getting meats from Sams Club and the grocery store so they're getting sales tax. You know a lot of the people went out to lunch today. They ate downtown. You couldn't even get in the restaurants," said Turner.

Saturday is expected to be no different. Rick Reeves has served up his BBQ for the past two years and expects the event will have an even brighter future.

"If it continues growing and Jonesboro continues doing what they are doing for the bar-b-q teams that come into town, I think it could be the size of Memphis in May in the next two to three years," said Reeves.

The teams competing will probably spend the majority of Friday night monitoring their meat on the grill. Some people even had tents set up to be able to camp out at the site. There will be live music all day starting at 11, with Rick Springfield closing out the night with a free concert.

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