A large and hungry lunch crowd had formed by afternoon for the Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival, which organizers said had 60,000 people in attendance in 2012 and an even larger number of vendors this year to offer mouthwatering dishes.
The fun began Friday night and continued Saturday as local acts, including cloggers, folk music groups and acoustic guitar soloists, took the stage to entertain the crowd.
Six-year-old Avery Price performed with her dance group from Teaching Little Children studio in Marietta, where she had been taken classes this summer.
The TLC kids did a hip-hop routine. Price said she was both nervous and excited.
Another stage in front of the Ben Robertson Community Center off Watts Drive provided more professional acts, including southern rock and blue grass bands.
A Bon Jovi tribute band, Slippery When Wet, was the headliner playing into the night with the event culminating in a fireworks display.
Enjoying the shade with her friends near the front of the stage, Joan Chandler of Powder Springs said she tried many varieties of fried fruit pies at a tent nearby.
Chandler was at the Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival to cheer on her husband who was competing with the Village Porkers team in the backyard cooking competition.
The Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned contest, with a competitive amateur category, brought out more than 75 cooking teams from across the southeast for a chance to win more than $15,000 in cash prizes, trophies and bragging rights, said Pamela Davis with the city of Kennesaw.
Lori Cardamone of Powder Springs was in a rush to plate her first dish, barbecue chicken, in time for the noon deadline before heading back to her team to get the second entry plated and over to the judges.
Cardamone, along with her husband and his co-workers, were cooking up pulled pork, pork ribs and pork shoulder.
The competition is fun but also intense, Cardamone said with determination. Their team took second place in the pork ribs category last year.
Peach desserts were the final round of plates, submitted at 7 p.m.
The barbecue offered over the weekend was not just for tasting, but also for feasting on.
Mary Ann Ziegler and her husband Al own Zeigler’s BBQ in Acworth and have been participants in the Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival since the beginning.
Mary Ann Ziegler said they were one of the first teams to compete when Zeigler’s BBQ was a catering company without a restaurant. Since then, they have focused on being a top vendor.
“It is the funnest thing we do all year,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler said they use a refrigeration trailer and two large metal cookers to start roasting the meat at 2 a.m. Thursday morning and they don’t stop until the event is almost over.
Friday night, they cooked 100 ribs, she said.
“We are very blessed with a good crew,” Ziegler said.
Kurt Webster, manager for Barbecue Street in Kennesaw, said their restaurant crew looks forward to seeing regulars, meeting new customers and bringing in more business to Kennesaw.
The No.1 item is the St. Louis ribs because of their famous rub on the “fall off the bone” meat, Webster said.
Mike and Jess Searcy of Kennesaw brought their two sons, ages 4 and 2, to the Pigs & Peaches BBQ Festival for lunch since the afternoon was one of the first nice days in Cobb County in months.
Mike waited for his wife to purchase items from Bareknuckles BBQ out of Dillard, while he held an ear of roasted corn in each hand.
Besides being a great treat for parents, the event included a large activity zone for kids, with 15 inflatable areas, ranging from a mechanical bucking hog, bungee trampoline and an obstacle course.
Employees of the Bounce House, out of Marietta, said it is the company’s third year at the festival and expected to have 5,000 kids run through the area.
Covering the entire park, tents were filled with jewelry, home décor items and craft projects.
Roger Grimes displayed his wooden cutting boards and serving trays, made from cedar, mahogany, walnut, white oak and maple pieces.
Six years ago, Grimes started his Kennesaw Woodpecker shop out of his home in West Cobb.
Grimes said it is his third year at the event, and although he didn’t anticipate a lot of sales because the crowd is there for music and saucy food, it is a chance for him to be out in the community.
“We just enjoy being here,” Grimes said.