By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- Bring a healthy appetite for delicious food and fantastic music this weekend, as the Historic Cocoa Village Association hosts the fourth annual "BBQ & Blues Festival" on Friday, June 6 and Saturday, June 7.
With some of the nation's top blues musicians providing top-of-the-line entertainment and dozens of grill and pit masters, serving up the best barbeque in the world, there is no doubt that this year's free event is sure to please all, who attend.
"BBQ & Blues Festival" coordinator and HVCA president Emma Kirkpatrick came up with the idea for the festival in 2010 when the association was brainstorming for a new event to fill in the slow summer months.
"We kicked around the idea of a barbeque contest, like our Chili Cook-off that we have in the spring, but I started thinking if we do this, how can we make it a really amazing event?" Mrs. Kirkpatrick said. "I started researching barbeque festivals and found the Florida BBQ Association, which sanctions these kinds of competitions, reached out to them to see what it would take to make our festival a true competition, and it just grew from there."
Now in its fourth year and the third year as a Jack Daniels World Championship and American Royal Invitational qualifier, Mrs. Kirkpatrick said the "BBQ & Blues Festival" continues to grow each year.
With an opening ceremony on Friday, beginning at 4:30 p.m., the "BBQ & Blues Festival" will kick off with an evening of fantastic food and entertainment, when some of the best blues acts take to the Sublime stage at Riverfront Park. Local blues artist Big Jim Adams will take the stage at 7 p.m.
There will also be a Friday night pub crawl through the streets of Historic Cocoa Village, courtesy of MadHatterPromotions.com, and a Blues Bash in the Cocoa Civic Center from 7 to 9 p.m., hosted by Two Chicks and a Pot.
Saturday's fun will begin with Bird Dog Bobby and the Honey Hounds at 11 a.m., with The Daniel Heitz Band and Joel DaSilva and the Midnight Howl, following.
"The Tommy Z Band will take the Sublime Stage at 6 p.m., rounding out a fabulous 'BBQ & Blues Festival' in Historic Cocoa Village's Riverfront Park," Mrs. Kirkpatrick said. "This is a family-friendly, free event with a fun kids' zone, merchandise vendors, music, drinks, food and more."
Saturday also includes the wildly popular People's Choice competition, where for $5, patrons get to sample more than 25 different types of barbeque and determine the winner.
At press time, 45 teams had signed up for the barbeque competition, all of whom will be in the running for more than $9,000 in cash prizes and a handmade trophy.
"If you've ever seen Pit Masters, it is a competition at that level," Mrs. Kirkpatrick said.
In fact, "BBQ & Blues Festival" grand champion Swamp Boys appeared on Pit Masters last season.
Of course, the HVCA knows the importance of giving back to the community, making this year's event both beneficial to those, who attend, as well as local school children.
"All tips from the drink sales go to Brevard Schools Foundation to support music in schools," Mrs. Kirkpatrick said.
Thanking a wide range of sponsors, including Bright House Networks, Sublime Restaurant & Sangria Lounge, Clear Channel Entertainment, Visit Space Coast, Econo Lodge of Merritt Island and Craig Technologies, for its unwavering support, Mrs. Kirkpatrick and the rest of the HCVA hopes that many come out for a weekend of good food, music and fun.
"If you like great food and amazing music, this is the event for you," Mrs. Kirkpatrick said.
The fourth annual "BBQ & Blues Festival," hosted by the Historic Cocoa Village Association, is Friday, June 6 through Saturday, June 7.
For more information, visit www.CocoaVillageBBQandBlues.com.