According to forecasts, temperatures Friday night for the 6 p.m. opening of the festival’s preview party and musical performances in the Brenau Amphitheatre should be in the low 70s with a slight breeze and 0 percent chance of rain. Saturday temperatures are expected to be in the temperate 60s when the festival opens its gates at 10 a.m. and move to the high 70s in the afternoon before the 5 p.m. closing time – again with no rain in the forecast.
“I don’t want to jinx it, but this could be the best weather ever,” said Jim Barco, Brenau’s festival organizer.
The 2013 festival is the 5th barbecue competition held on the campus of the historic campus in Gainesville. It features work by 38 professional and amateur cooking teams in the Memphis Barbecue Network- and Georgia Barbecue Association-sanctioned event. In addition there will be activities for children in the family-friendly environment, with vendors selling everything from barbecue seasonings to custom jewelry, a classic automobile show and musical performances Friday night and all day Saturday.
Admission for the Friday preview party, where visitors can watch contestants prepare ribs, whole hogs and pork roasts for the next day’s judging, is $10. Saturday admission is $5, with children 10 and under admitted free. All proceeds benefit scholarships at Brenau.
The festival has become the unofficial kick-off for summer activities in the Gainesville area, and the weather has always cooperated.
Barco is extremely fond of recounting the story of the World War II U.S. Army Chaplain James Hugh O’Neill, who famously earned a Bronze Star for authoring the prayer, ordered by Gen. George Patton, calling for the break in weather that ultimately occurred. That break enabled Patton to push his Third Army across France and into Belgium quickly to relieve surrounded American troops in the Battle of the Bulge. Following Patton’s example, in the first year of the barbecue Barco appointed Rev. Donald Harrison, the university chaplain, “to be in charge of getting us good weather.”
“If this year’s forecast holds,” said Barco, “I think we need to give Rev. Harrison a medal, too. But he’s done a great job overall. In the five years we’ve been in business, we’ve had some hot days, but the only rainy day saw storms all around us, but not a drop fell at Brenau.”
Friday’s musical entertainment starts at 6 p.m. and features the North Hall High School Jazz Band and The Allen Nivens Band opening up for local legends Riverstreet.
“Appalachian Stomp,” is how Allen Nivens describes the sound his band produces by blending genres and focusing on country and rock. The sextet from Gainesville formed in 2007 and consists of Rob Robinson on drums and vocals, Chris Cheatham on lead guitar, Carl Williams on bass, Corrie Hill on vocals and violin, Matt Pruitt on keyboard and Nivens with vocals and acoustic guitar.
Saturday’s music starts off at 10 a.m. with a session of different local singer/songwriters, followed by Back in Time playing a double set of “toe-tapping oldies.” Fiddleheads front man, mandolin player Zak McConnell and Erick Jones make up The Jones Boys who are playing some bluegrass favorites at 2 p.m. followed by another round of singer/songwriters from 3-4:45 p.m to wrap up the day’s musical entertainment.