Members of the Franklin BBQ Society are predicting a 100% chance of mouth-watering sweet smoke billowing up over the rolling green pastures of Harlinsdale Farm in late August due to the convergence of two natural phenomena: pit masters from around the country gathered in one place competing for the bragging rights at the Great Americana BBQ Festival, and locals craving the aroma and taste of the best-of-the-best barbecue in America.
The festival is set for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 27 and 28.
The first wave Friday will be a VIP night. Attendees at the 21-and-older event will be serenaded by live jazz while dining on a special menu of tender smoked chicken and pork loin. Beer, wine and liquor pairings will be recommended to provide for a palatially perfect meal.
After dinner, VIPs will be treated to a very exclusive and intimate presentation by two of country music’s top songwriters — Billy Montana and James Dean Hicks — as they share the secrets of their string of No. 1 hit songs.
“We want this VIP dinner to be very exclusive, and we have room for only 200 couples, although singles are welcome, too,” says Rotarian and Festival Director Bill Foley. “We plan a very leisurely and palate-pleasing evening for this exclusive group. It’ll be a night to remember.”
VIPs will also get a sneak peek at Saturday’s competitors after Friday’s dinner as they prepare to try and smoke their rivals at the official cook-off competition.
“We’ve listened and learned from previous guests and have incorporated the best recommendations into this year’s festival,” Foley says. “There will be plenty of amazing barbecue available. Period.”
This year’s attendees can buy a separate ticket to what is being billed as the Rib Shootout, scheduled for Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
“No bones about it, if you’re a true connoisseur of barbecue, this is a must for you,” Foley says. “With this ticket, you will have the envious option of sampling two ribs from each vendor, and we’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill backyard barbecuers.”
Potential pit masters that guests will sample from include Charcoal Cowboys, as featured on “Pit Masters” and winners of the Memphis Challenge; Algood BBQ, winners of five grand championships and holder of the Golden Ticket for the 2021 World Food Championships; The Beached Pig, which ranks top five in the world for whole hog and caters for Zac Brown Band and Foo Fighters; and Zilla’s Pit BBQ, which was featured on the “Food Truck Challenge” with award-winning ribs.
Rib Shootout tickets are $75 and include general admission for all of Saturday’s events.
“Since we’re limited to the number of Rib Shootout tickets we can issue, I highly recommend getting tickets now at www.greatamericanabbqfestival.com,” Foley says.
Although barbecue is definitely the king of the festival, those who don’t get that excited about the aromas and sensations of this Southern art form — for reasons organizers cannot fathom — will still have plenty to do.
Live Music All Day Saturday
It wouldn’t be a festival without live music, and that’s on the menu all day, beginning when the gates open at 10 a.m. with School of Rock. Next will be hometown, homegrown popular duo 2Country4Nashville, who perform for audiences across America and even on cruise lines. The afternoon will wrap up with the coolest Rolling Stones cover band east of Liverpool, Music City Stones, starting at 5:30 p.m.
In addition to the Rib Shootout, food vendors will offer separate selections for the whole family to enjoy. Imagine spending the day in hog heaven.
“Come hungry,” Foley says. “There will be plenty of food options.”
The kids zone will feature fun games like Yardzee dice, dominos, Jenga wooden blocks, giant checkers, cornhole, giant Connect Four, lawn bowling, rustic ring toss, giant lawn tic-tac-toe and more. After all the food and fun, the kids will sleep soundly afterwards.
The Music City AACA car show will display over 100 vehicles from 10 a.m.-2p.m. Drive down memory lane as you behold this automotive eye candy. This is going to trigger a lot of pleasant memories for car lovers.
This isn’t “just a game” to these people. There will be serious playing at the festival’s first-ever cornhole tournament. There will be 32 professional and 32 backyard teams competing for the title of King of the Corn(hole). Enter the tournament on the festival’s website at www.greatamericanabbqfestival.com.
From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Tennessee Distillers Guild will host a tasting area where festival goers can sample Tennessee whiskey, rum, rye, vodka and moonshine from 14 distilleries. Local distiller Heath Clark of H. Clark Distillery and former Jack Daniels’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett will talk about their new project during one of the demonstrations.
Chef Lee Rice from Puckett’s will demonstrate how to prepare a delicious brisket, and other pitmasters will share their recipes and smoking techniques to help those in the audience produce an award-winning brisket masterpiece right in their own backyard (all bragging rights included).
Help yourself. Help your community.
The Great Americana BBQ Festival is a fundraiser for the Franklin Noon Rotary Club. All proceeds go right back to the community.
“We’ve created what we believe is the ultimate family event and want to see everyone at the festival this year,” Foley says. “We have listened to festival goers from previous years and learned what they want and expect from the experience. We think we’ve nailed it this year. We are looking forward to providing a fun-filled family day for the community while raising money for local charities.”
For tickets or more information, visit www.greatamericanabbqfestival.com.