By JOHN McBRYDE
Now in its fourth year, the Great Americana Barbecue Festival at Harlinsdale Farm that’s happening Saturday has become one of the major stops on the barbecue competition circuit.
And its warmup event — Friday night’s Flavor of Franklin, now in its second year — isn’t too shabby either.
“The Flavor of Franklin is becoming more and more popular, and we expect it to continue to grow,” said Jeff Nichols, coordinator of this year’s festival hosted by the Franklin Noon Rotary Club.
Nichols said attendance for Flavor of Franklin was around 1,000 last year and could reach between 1,500-2,000 this year. It gives guests the opportunity to sample appetizers from one restaurant, an entree from another and dessert from still another. It is perhaps the perfect prelude to the big day Saturday, when barbecue takes center stage with vendors, grilling demonstrations, a whole hog smoking contest, and a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned competition featuring over 75 teams competing in five categories for over $12,000 in total cash prizes.
Saturday’s festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds of the Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin and could draw as many as 6,000 people, will also feature live music, a car show, craft vendors, food and a kid’s zone with all sorts of ways for the little “pit masters” to run, jump and play.
In addition, festivalgoers age 21 and over can enjoy local artisan flavors from Tennessee distilleries.
Samplings will also be available at Friday’s Flavor of Franklin from 6-8 p.m. Live music will be playing on the main stage until 9:30.
Proceeds from Flavor of Franklin will benefit local culinary arts programs. The Franklin BBQ Society is committed to helping local students who dream to become culinary professionals and want to develop the necessary cooking techniques and other skills essential to success in the industry.
As an added attraction to the Flavor of Franklin, the competitors’ area will be open so that attendees can see the pitmasters preparing for the competition.
Entry ticket includes two beverage tickets good for beer or wine. Additional beverage tickets are available for $6.