Excitement and enthusiasm continue to build around a full slate of music, barbecue, holiday and football activities during the "Jazz In Jonesboro" weekend Friday Nov. 10 and Saturday Nov. 11 on the Arkansas State University campus. "Jazz In Jonesboro" is sponsored by KCJF (EARL-FM 103.9) radio station.
The internationally known Little River Band is the featured headliner Friday evening with both area and Nashville-based bands performing throughout the day Nov. 10th and 11th on the Paula Graddy / Shelter Insurance Stage as a backdrop for the "Backyard Barbecue Contest" sponsored by First Commercial Bank as well as the Memphis in May MidSouth Barbecue Championship qualifying round. All activities lead up to the main event - ASU's football game with Sun Belt Conference nemesis Middle Tennessee State at 4 p.m. Nov. 11.
"This is going to be one of the largest sanctioned Memphis in May barbecue qualifying events on the entire circuit," said Kent Keith of Little Rock, co-chairman of the event. "In addition to the professional and amateur competition, there are some great bands providing entertainment leading up the football game. We've very excited that the Little River Band will be here to headline the musical acts."
Keith said that out of all the Memphis in May sanctioned teams that have paid to compete, at least one is among the top-15 teams in the world. The Memphis in May division will have The Rib Ticklers, one of the top teams in the world from Batesville. They have been cooking for three years on the Memphis in May circuit and in their first year of cooking, they finished third in overall points, after finishing eighth in overall points in their second year. The group is currently eighth in overall points.
Dr. John Harris, chief cook, said, " We chose to compete in 'Jazz in Jonesboro' because it is a well-organized large event in the state of Arkansas."
Jazz in Jonesboro will feature teams from Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas.
Keith said Paula Graddy of Shelter Insurance in Jonesboro is sponsoring a huge outdoor festival stage for the bands. All events will be at the old track and field complex on Olympic Drive south of Indian Stadium. The Little River Band begins play at 7 p.m. Friday, with the starting bands beginning at 5 p.m.
The barbecue competition, sponsored by First Commercial Bank, is open to individuals or teams including businesses and students to give them the opportunity to experience the full effect of Memphis in May. Prize money and trophies will be awarded for all divisions.
"Having the amateur competition gives everyone in Jonesboro and the surrounding area the opportunity to take part in the event," Keith said. "Anyone who has a grill and wants to cook can come and join the fun."
The First Commercial Bank Back Yard BBQ event will have two categories to enter - pork ribs and pork shoulder. Cost to cook in each one is $25. For the entry fee, each team member will receive two tickets to the ASU-Middle Tennessee game Saturday and a 10 x 20 space at the event. For more information, contact Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Indian Club at 870-972-2401.
St. Bernards Medical Center will provide a wellness tent and KAIT-TV will do live broadcasts from a special weather deck and news set constructed by Barton's, who is also one of the main sponsors of Jazz in Jonesboro. Baker Health Care and Home IV Specialists serve as sponsors and Bill's Fresh Market is the official grocer for amateur teams. Entrants ordering meat and supplies from Bill's will receive a special discount. Lone Star gas in Jonesboro, also a main sponsor for Jazz in Jonesboro, will be the official fuel sponsor for the large Memphis in May teams.
Jonesboro mayor Doug Forman will serve as a celebrity judge for the amateur competition that leads up to the 4 p.m. start time of the football game. Winners of the event will be announced during halftime of the ASU-MT game.