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Hinesville gets saucy Saturday
Blues & BBQ is downtown around courthouse
One of the featured acts is Tommy Thunderfoot and the Accelerators out of Charleston. - photo by Photo provided.
Blues musicians have always been serious about playing music they enjoy playing, for people to enjoy hearing.
“See, music is the only thing I ever got for free, and the only thing that I still have after all these years,” Blues artist Tommy Thunderfoot is quoted as saying on his Facebook page. “I can’t give it up, and it won’t let me go. I just want to share it with as many people as I can, you know, make ‘em happy for a while.”
This bluesy attitude seems shared by Thunderfoot’s fellow performers who are also slated to perform at the seventh annual Blues & BBQ festival. The family-oriented event will be held from 4-11:30 p.m. Saturday in downtown Hinesville.
 “I absolutely love music,” Blues protégé Sarah Cole said on her Myspace page. “And I’m never going to stop chasing my dream.”
“I have been blessed to make a living at something I enjoy so much and I try never to forget that or take this privilege for granted,” guitarist Ben Robinson said on his Myspace page.
Robinson will open the music portion of the festival at 4 p.m. Robinson has twice appeared on The Tonight Show with David Letterman and has regularly performed in Hinesville for lunchtime concerts in the park.
“He tends to attract a younger crowd,” said Leah Poole, with the Hinesville Area Arts Council. Poole said Robinson, along with Cole and Tommy Thunderfoot and the Accelerators, should draw attendance from within and outside the Liberty County region. Robinson is from Jacksonville, Florida, and Cole and Thunderfoot are from Charleston, S.C.
“Sarah Cole has been playing bass guitar since she was 14,” Poole said.  “I’m really excited listening to her play. She’s 17 now; she’ll turn 18 (next month).”
Cole will take the stage at 6 p.m. and festival headliners Tommy Thunderfoot and the Accelerators will perform from 8-11:30 p.m.
This year, the entertainment hours have been extended, said Vicki Davis, executive director for the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority.
“This is a high-quality event,” Davis said. “We have some nice (casual) events, but this one rivals events in larger communities. Our entertainment is top-notch.”
To help offset the entertainment cost, a $5 gate admission will be charged this year, she said.
“We’ve never made money off of Blues & BBQ,” Poole said. “We’re trying to recoup some funds so we can continue to bring in quality entertainment. We’re just building every year. Each year we try to amp it up.”
“They’ve (arts council) put out more than $5,000 of unrecovered money in the past,” Davis said. “I don’t think the community as a whole knows how much the Hinesville Area Arts Council does.”
The arts council and HDDA coordinate the festival each year. Sponsors include Fort Stewart MWR,
Shane’s Rib Shack, Bobby Ryon for Sheriff, Warren Waye for Sheriff, Woodmen of the World, Keep Liberty Beautiful and Heritage Bank, Poole said.
Davis said the food portion of the festival has also taken center stage.
“In the past we’ve done more of a fun contest among vendors,” she said. “This year we’re starting to transition the contest to where it’s more of a feature. The requirements for the vendors are beginning to look more like a sanctioned event.”
Vendors must cook on site and their food and culinary set-ups will be inspected, Davis said.
As of Monday, there were eight registered barbecue contestants, she said. The registration deadline for the barbecue competition is today, Davis said.
“Contestants can choose to enter one category or all four,” she said.
Competitors range from backyard barbecue enthusiasts to restaurants and businesses, Davis said. Teams are encouraged. The contest entry fee is $25.
“This is the first year that we’re offering a cash award,” she said.
The top two winners in each category and the overall winner will win a total of $500 in cash. The categories are pork, beef, chicken and ribs. 
Festival attendees will also have a chance to judge entries in the people’s choice contest. Attendees can buy a $3 wooden nickel to purchase samples from each participating contestant. They may then use the nickels to vote for their favorite barbecue vendor. 
Davis said organizers hope the competition will someday become a sanctioned event. She said once Bryant Commons is completed, it could easily serve as a venue for the festival.
For more information, call 877-4332, e-mail or go to

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