The Franklin Noon Rotary is known for its long-standing tradition of producing the Franklin Rodeo, however, a new tradition is starting to make its mark in Franklin with the 4th annual Great Americana BBQ Festival set for Saturday, August 24.
In its fourth year, the event is already a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition which means these folks take their grilling seriously. “We have teams come as far away as Texas to compete,” said Jeff Nicholls, a Rotarian and BBQ Society member who helps coordinate the event. “Last year we had 86 teams, this year we could have more. We have local teams, but many teams travel from out of town to be here. Franklin is becoming a bar-be-cue destination.”
The Park at Harlinsdale Farm morphs a beautiful campground as competitors arrive with their campers, grills and families for the weekend of smoking ribs, brisket, pork butts, and chicken. Pro and backyard teams are competing for money, and the pro teams are in it to advance to the ever-prestigious Jack Daniels Barbeque competition in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
“These teams take it very seriously,” said Nicholls. “We have almost $15,000 in prize money for the teams, but bragging rights and trophies are much more prestigious.” This year the event will feature Bama-Q-TV on site to film an episode for their its show. Bama-Q follows members of the Alabama BBQ Association as they compete.
The festival is much more than teams competing, the Franklin Noon Rotary Club wants to provide a fun and entertaining experience for the entire family. “The event is designed so all members of the family and come and eat, listen to music, check out the car show, or go to the kids’ zone, “said Nicholls. “We want to provide a good time so everyone can come enjoy the event.”
The event will have vendors, so if shopping or browsing is your thing, you’re in luck. A large stage this year will have live music playing throughout the day, and if you like whiskey, there will be a whiskey barn set up for tasting different libations produced in the area. The whiskey tasting is $35 per person.
There’s even a demonstration stage for the those who want to learn about preparing the best brisket or ribs with the tutoring of local chef’s who share their secrets. For car lovers, a show will feature over 50 vintage models including a vintage fire truck.
If you are bringing the kids, the club has added an expanded kid’s zone this year complete with a balloon magician, games and the main attraction, the Big Idaho Potato Truck which is on tour promoting the certified heart healthy potato.
Tickets for the event are only $5 with food, beer and wine available for purchase inside the event.
The Franklin Noon Rotary Foundation has given back over $2 million to the community since the creation of the Franklin Rodeo 70 years ago. The Great Americana BBQ Festival was created to form another revenue stream for the foundation to give back.
“At the end of the day, our club members are all volunteers, working hard to do good things for the community, and the BBQ Festival is becoming better each year, thanks to the hard work of many,” said Valerie Clark, Club President. A list of the many charities the club gives back to may be found on the website at www.franklinnoonrotary.com.
Flavor of Franklin
Friday night the Park at Harlinsdale sets the tone for the weekend with the 2nd annual Flavor of Franklin. The event will feature over 30 restaurants that will bring samplings of their menu for customers to try.
“We already have the park rented for the weekend, it’s the most beautiful park in the area, so why not have a party on Friday to kick off the festival,” said Nicholls. The event is designed for ticket holders to stroll around the park and taste different foods from area restaurants. Tickets to the Friday night event are $35 in advance and $40 the day of and the price includes two drink tickets. Beverages are available for purchase.
Nicholls encourages the Friday guests to walk around the competitors’ village and talk with the contenders about their methods. “It’s a great way to meet some of the competitors and ask them questions about how they prepare the meat, what kind of smokers they use, what kind of rubs and charcoal they use, whatever,” said Nicholls. “And make some new friends.”
The Great Americana BBQ Festival is presented by Puckett’s. Tickets for the BBQ Festival are $5 and may be purchased at www.greatamericanafestival.com or at the gate.
Flavor of Franklin tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door and may also be purchased at the same website.