This is the 12th year for the festival and it ran from the 28th through the 30th. It's a charity fund-raiser and raised in excess of $300,000 last year. Won't find out for a while how much was raised this year. The news reports said that an estimated 40,000 people attended over the three-day period. Over 25 tons of meat and poultry was cooked.
Saturday - September 30 - was an awesomely beautiful day. Picture-perfect sky. Blue and filled with puffy clouds. The festival area was packed with everyone looking for that perfect bite of barbecue. I could've eaten the air. It smelled divine.
There were 88 participating booths. 46 of them were contestants hoping to bring home the #1 trophy. Cookers represented all kinds of groups and organizations. Red Cross, fire departments, churches, bowling teams, you name it. They're a fun group of people with the best senses of humor as noted by their team names. Smokin' Hose Grillin' Team (fire department), Basty Boys, River City Rib Ticklers, Buzzard Brothers, Certified Holy Smoke (Baptist church), and more.
If you needed something to eat along with your barbecue, there was plenty else to be had. Funnel cakes, of course, ribbon fries, Polish and Italian sausges (but, why?), roasted nuts, fruit smoothies, fried green tomatoes, corn on the cob, chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, made-on-site kettle corn (smelled yummy), cheesecake-on-a-stick, deep-fried candy bars, fried ice cream, and more, and more, and more.
We arrived just after noon and made our way through the mob of people. Bought a bunch of shredded pork and a couple of drinks from Buzzard Brothers. They've been Grand Champions several years in a row and we've never been disappointed with their cooked piggie
. We were rewarded with very happy tastebuds and a full tummy. Buzzard Brothers was as good as we'd remembered.
As we ate, we did a significant amount of people-watching. This was VERY fertile people-watching ground. Since it was quite warm, my husband had to put his eyeballs back in their sockets when some young things strolled by
in, shall I say, scant and/or clingy duds.
There were also some real "characters" to see. Biker mamas. Whoa! Some of them were true pieces of work.
Lots of people with their dogs on a leash. Buck and I thought taking a dog to an event like this was borderline doggie abuse. What with all the smells and some of the tidbits on the ground. I got a doggie "fix" when we chatted with a family who had their bichon, Jazzie, in tow. Looked exactly like my little Spike. He was a doll and I still miss him. Jazzie was adorable and let me get my fill of petting her.
Across from the beer garden there was a stage for live music. The band that was playing while we were there was pretty good.
As our final act of indugence, we stopped at a booth we saw as we came in. It was a church group that sold fried ice cream. Oh, boy, how delicious. Each serving was a big, and I mean big, scoop of vanilla ice cream that had been rolled in what looked like finely chopped/shredded coconut, ground nuts and cinnamon. Then the whole thing was deep-fried very quickly. Each scoop was topped with your choice of chocolate syrup or honey. Chocolate syrup, of course. A wedge of fried flour tortilla dusted with cinnamon/sugar completed the dessert. M-m-m-m, good! It took us nearly a half an hour to polish it off.
We sat near a large gazebo to eat our ice cream while watching about 6 horse-drawn carriages come and go. Everyone was in a festive mood and we had a great time. We always look forward to Barbecue-on-the-River. Only a little over 11 months to go until next year. Guess I'll have to be patient.
My recommendation? If you're in the Paducah, KY area near the end of September, stick around for the barbecue festival. You won't be sorry.