By Donna Thornton/News Editor
The fifth annual Smoke on the Falls Barbeque Festival may be close to home, but its much more than your typical backyard cookout.
The festival, with events April 12 and 13, features barbeque crews in the professional and backyard divisions, competing for more than $10,000 in prize money.
City of Gadsden Parks and Recreation Director Kerry Payne said there’s room for 75 teams and he expected to have that many registered by the April 10 deadline. The event is a Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned event, meaning barbeque will be judged by the same standards as barbeque festivals of all sizes all over the U.S.
For visitors, the fun starts Friday (April 12) when they get free admission to visit with the competitors and enjoy – or participate – in the first Open Mic night. Payne said everyone is invited to bring his or her own instrument for some pickin’ and grinnin.’ Cushions and coolers are welcome.
Saturday (April 13) will bring out the smoked meat and the music. Gates open at 10 a.m. and the Leverton Brothers will take the stage at 11:30 a.m. Reckless performs at 2 p.m.
Admission to the event is $10 for ages 13 and up; $5 for ages 4-12, and includes the music, a free Ray’s barbecue sandwich, the Jack’s Kids Fun Area, Gadsden Public Library story time (11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.), one round of mini golf and park admission (train ride, petting zoo, pioneer village).
However, Saturday events kick-off at 8 a.m. with the Smoke Your Buns 5K run through the park, with a mix of smooth and rough terrain. Registration is $25 through April 7, then $30 per runner. The registration fee includes a t-shirt and admission to Smoke on the Falls. There is a $2 discount for members of the Gadsden Runners Club and the Anniston Runners Club.
Barbeque awards will be announced at 4 p.m. with professional teams judged on pulled pork, ribs, chicken and beef brisket. Backyard division teams compete in chicken and rib categories.
All teams can enter in the People’s Choice category, and which lets festival visitors be the judge. For $3, people can get a sample from five different teams and vote on their choice. Sampling will start at 1 p.m. ad continue as long as supplies last.
Vendors will have barbeque and other items for sale, Payne said.