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Saucy barbecue, blues served up
Blues & BBQ satisfies locals cravings for smoky food, tunes
web 1005 Blues  BBQ 3
The Ben Robinson Band rocks the Blues and BBQ crowd Saturday night in Hinesville. - photo by Hollie Moore Barnidge

The winners are

People’s choice
First: JC’s Bar-B-Que
Second: Lawdawg BBQ

Best chicken
First: Lawdawg BBQ
Second: Sweat’s BBQ

Best ribs
First: Sweat’s BBQ
Second: Lawdawg BBQ

Best Boston butt
First: Lawdawg BBQ
Second: Sweat’s BBQ

Sweat’s BBQ

The delectable smell of perfectly smoked and sauced pork, ribs and chicken lured area residents to downtown Hinesville on Saturday evening, where the ninth annual Blues & BBQ festival ran from 5-11:30 p.m. in the Liberty County Justice Center parking lot on M.L. King Jr. Drive.

The free event, presented by Fort Stewart MWR, the Hinesville Area Arts Council and the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, featured a barbecue competition, children’s activities, vendors and three live bands — Victor Wainwright and the Wild Roots, Ben Robinson and Sarah Cole.

Contest judging began shortly before the festival got under way, and the results were announced after attendees had plenty of time to enjoy the music and food.

The panel of judges voted Sweat’s BBQ the best overall. Sweat’s also won first place in the ribs category and second place in the chicken and Boston butt categories. Lawdawg BBQ won first place in the chicken and Boston butt categories and second place in the ribs and people’s choice categories. JC’s Bar-B-Que took top honors in the people’s choice category.

JC’s contest victory was enough to convince Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas to sample the vendor’s offerings. As he stood in the long line that snaked its way toward JC’s Bar-B-Que booth, Thomas reflected on the merriment that surrounded him.

“I think that the Blues & BBQ event is a great venue for people in Hinesville, from soldiers to families,” he said. “People can just get out and enjoy good music and good food — because I’m enjoying it — and I think it’s a great, great day to be here in Hinesville.”

Sweat’s BBQ co-owner Laura Sweat said she and her husband enjoyed their first Blues & BBQ experience. In addition to taking part in the barbecue competition, they also went to hear Sweat’s nephew, Victor Wainright, perform with his band.

“We’ve been barbecuing at competitions since 2004. We just do it for fun. It’s a family hobby,” Sweat said. “We’re happy to be here. It’s picked up and we’re just really happy to be here.”

Although they’ve lived in the area for awhile, first-time Blues & BBQ attendees Mistie and Roy Ramey said they finally decided to check out the festivities at a friend’s insistence.  

Mistie Ramey admitted that she expected the festival would be a little bigger.

“I thought there would be more vendors,” she said.

Roy Ramey agreed, but said, “Other than that, I like it. It’s nice.”

Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton served as a judge, but he stuck around to mingle with the crowd and get his fill of smoldering blues music after the judges were dismissed.

“You can smell this thing from a mile away,” he said. “There’s great music playing. It’s a great way for anyone to come down here and spend an hour or two of their time with their family on a cool afternoon.”

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