By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – It’ll be hard to miss the smell of barbecue in downtown Tupelo this weekend.
The fourth annual Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel will be in Fairpark today and Saturday, and it’s free and open to the public.
Nearly 100 teams will compete in the Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned event, and barbecue fans can pick their favorite. Winners can take home part of $15,000 in cash prizes.
Entertainment will begin in Fairpark at 10:30 a.m. on both days, and there will be arts and crafts and food vendors.
Entertainment today includes the Spunk Monkees, Bonfire Orchestra, Bob Ray, Tim Warren and Priscilla Barker. Saturday’s entertainment includes the Greg Dillard Band, Mink Brothers, Evan Adams and Jordyn Mallory.
The parking lot area behind City Hall and the road directly in front of City Hall are closed. Most of the closed roads will be open by Sunday at 5 p.m., and the parking lot behind City Hall will reopen Monday at 5 p.m.
There will be children’s activities at this year’s festival, including demonstrations by Two Dragons Martial Arts on Friday. Excel by 5, Healthworks! and the Tupelo Fire Department will have demonstrations on Saturday, said Bev Crossen, event organizer. There will be a St. Patrick’s Day Children’s Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Clark “Smoky” Hale will make two presentations on Saturday inside City Hall. He’ll present “Southern Barbecue: America’s Oldest Art Form” at 10:30 a.m. and “Grillin’ with Smoky” at 3 p.m., which will offer tips and insight, Crossen said.
Also inside City Hall will be screenings of documentary films made by the Southern Foodways Alliance BBQ Collection.
There will be a bike rally on Saturday benefiting the Boy Scouts.
The Don’t Be Cruel BBQ Duel is the biggest fundraiser for the Link Centre, a nonprofit organization that fosters creative partnerships for the arts and social services in Northeast Mississippi.
For more information, visit tupelobbqduel.com.