Gwen Fowler



Greenwood celebrates blues and barbecue

Posted 7/2/2013 10:04:00 AM

Greenwood will be smoking with great barbecue and great blues performers July 11-13 for the 13th annual South Carolina Festival of Discovery

The event will feature a record number of barbecue teams – 93, up from 82 last year – and 19 blues acts appearing at nine venues.

For three days, U.S. 25, which is Main Street through Greenwood, will be closed to traffic. The barbecue teams will be set up along the street, under the oak tree canopy.

“We have never closed Main Street for the festival in its 13 year history,” said Charlie Barrineau, Greenwood city manager.

The Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned contest is drawing professional and “backyard” teams from eight states, including 47 teams from South Carolina.

Barrineau has visited a number of barbecue competitions during the past year to recruit teams, and the pitmasters are responding to Greenwood’s Southern hospitality.

“We treat them like royalty when they come here,” Barrineau said.

Judges, all certified by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, will outnumber the barbecue teams. The society requires 1.2 judges per team, but Greenwood has no trouble filling those slots. By January, about 115 judges had committed, Barrineau said. Carolyn Wells, executive director and one of the founders of the society, also will be in Greenwood.

“Barbecue and Greenwood go hand in hand,” Barrineau said. The city is the home of pork producer Carolina Pride, which also is the presenting sponsor of the festival.

Another important part of South Carolina culture is the blues. The music portion of the festival – the Blues Cruise – has grown from four or five acts the first year to 19 performing in nine venues this year. Shrimp City Slim, a Charleston keyboard player, singer and songwriter coordinates the musical talent for South Carolina Festival of Discovery.

The festival even has its own theme song, recorded by blues master Drink Small, a Bishopville native, “Living in a Barbecue World.”

Musicians will perform Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and there is no cover charge at any of the festival venues. The Deb Callahan Band will kick off the Blues Cruise with a concert 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday.

On Friday night, barbecue teams will cook in an “Anything Goes” competition, which means they can prepare anything except pulled pork, ribs, chicken or brisket. Teams also have to use a product furnished by Carolina Pride, and that will be ham this year. The entries in this competition have been creative in the past, Barrineau said, including bacon cheesecake and shrimp and grits.

At the Taster’s Choice 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, festival-goers can buy tickets to sample what the competition teams have prepared. Barrineau said about 14,000 taste tickets were sold last year.

The annual Skin’s hot dog eating contest will be at noon on Saturday, with champion Michael Diebold of Anderson back to defend his title. Skin’s Hot Dogs are located throughout the upstate and in several other states.

The festival also includes arts and crafts, other food vendors, and amusement rides on Friday and Saturday.

For information on where to stay during the festival, click here