Nope, the Whole Hawg Happenin’ had moved downtown.
The new location for the barbecue and music festival on the Square meant more people were expected for the event that ran from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Festival coordinator Maryclaire Andres, owner of Promo-Photo, estimated the crowd at between 15,000 and 20,000 people.
The event, relocated from the Six Flags White Water parking lot where it was held since 2008, included 19 professional and backyard teams from across Georgia and Alabama competing for prize money. While those offerings were restricted to 30 judges, the public had 25 food vendors to choose from, 15 of them selling barbecue. Vendors included popular eateries like Williamson Brothers, Dave Poe’s, Sam’s BBQ 1 and Heirloom Market.
“I wanted to do it like I do Taste of Marietta,” Andres said, referring to a springtime event she runs.
Along with food, attendees were able to sit in the park and enjoy music from artists such as Hoosier Daddy and Banks & Shane.
Jim Maier of Powder Springs wasn’t sure which stand he got his pork sandwich and ribs from, but he said it was good. He also enjoyed the music from Hurricane Wilson.
“It’s great,” said Maier, who attended the festival with his wife, Sara. “This is the best idea they’ve had all year. I look forward to next year.”
Robert and Lori Malone recently moved to the Anderson Farm area of Marietta, They returned to Cobb after spending a few years on St. Simons Island, saying all the events the Square hosts factored into their decision.
“We didn’t think on such a misty day that there would be so many people, but this is great,” Robert Malone said.
The Malones said they sampled barbecue from Williamson Brothers, where they’d been before, and Dave Poe’s, which was new to them. They were pleased with both and planned to try a third stand.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place with so many barbecue vendors,” Lori Malone said.
The Whole Hawg Happenin’ also included a kids area, classic car show with 20 vehicles, and autograph signings with former Atlanta Braves Sid Bream and Otis Nixon.
“The reception has been awesome,” said former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who also signed in the VIP tent. “I only go to a certain few of these, and I pick this one every single time. After I get done I want to have some beer and barbecue.”
The event also served as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club, the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, the Earl Smith Strand Theatre, the Marietta Museum of History and Gone with the Wind Museum. Andres said the move to the Square led to a number of logistical costs, such as putting up a new website, which would likely limit the amount the event raised to around $10,000.
“Next year is when we’ll make money,” said Andres, who added that she won’t take a salary for her work this year.