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Blue & BBQ satisfies cravings
jimmy wayne renfroe
Hinesville's own Jimmy Wayne Renfro belts out a song at Saturday's Blues & BBQ. - photo by Photo by Lawrence Dorsey

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Contest winners

• Best overall: Yes, Dear BBQ
• People’s choice: Yes, Dear                        
• Chicken
       - First: First Baptist Church
       - Second: MOFO’s BBQ
• Ribs
       - First: Lawdawg BBQ
       - Second: Yes, Dear BBQ
• Pork
       - First: Do Right Seafood and
       - Second: Lawdawg BBQ

Downtown Hinesville came alive Saturday night with the sights, sounds and smells of the ninth annual Blues & BBQ. Several live musical acts kept patrons rocking as they enjoyed smoked Boston butt, chicken and ribs; participated in barbecue and sweet-tea contests; decorated the festival grounds with sidewalk chalk; and mingled with neighbors and friends.   
The free event was presented by the Hinesville Area Arts Council, according to HAAC chairwoman Leah Poole. The Liberty County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority and Fort Stewart MWR served as sponsors.
The tunes were provided mostly by local artists, council vice chairwoman Jennifer Buehler said.
Headliner Joey Gilmore, EverReady — a five-man band founded in 1974 by Midway native Tommy Bailey — and Jimmy Wayne Renfro of Hinesville performed.   
“I graduated from Bradwell Institute in 1988 and have performed with the likes of Gretchen Wilson and Jason Aldean,” Renfro said. “However, my heart is in Hinesville, and I appreciate ... being able to play
Hinesville native Dylan Ebert enjoyed the music while his daughter, Alexis Ebert, 7, had fun with sidewalk chalk.
“I really liked it. It allows us to do our own stuff,” Alexis Ebert said.
The sweet-tea contest was a new addition to this year’s festival, Poole said. Contestants each donated five gallons of tea and festivalgoers were allowed to sample each before voting for their favorite. Poole’s Deli took top honors, according to HDDA program assistant Katrina Barrow.
The barbecue contest — a festival staple — consisted of five categories: pork, chicken, ribs, best overall and people’s choice. The panel of judges voted Yes, Dear BBQ best overall and second in the ribs category. Yes, Dear BBQ also nabbed the people’s choice award. First Baptist Church took first place in the chicken category while MOFO’s BBQ came in second. Lawdawg BBQ took first in ribs and second in pork. Do Right Seafood and BBQ took first in pork.  
Vendor Frank Neagle of Yes, Dear BBQ, which is based in Savannah, said he had been preparing food since 6 a.m. and was busy serving customers lined up “as far as the eye could see.”
“This barbecue is the traditional Georgia-style barbecue because of its sweet tang mixed with a little bit of vinegar,” Neagle said.
Gum Branch resident Bryan Steele, a station manager at Classic Country 92.3, served as a first-time barbecue contest judge.
“The hardest part is pacing myself, because the food is so good, you want to eat so much of it,” Steele said.
Festival attendee Charlotte Lovette-Norman of Hinesville said she was proud of Hinesville for putting on a good event and funneling revenue into the community. She added that it was a good opportunity for families to spend some leisurely time together.
“Bring your blanket, a lawn chair and just enjoy,” she said.

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