If May’s already on the way, it must be time again for the Delta’s favorite food and music festival, Que on the Yazoo, set to fire up on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, along the banks, you guessed it, of the mighty Yazoo River in downtown Greenwood.
The fest is officially a sanctioned barbecue competition that sponsored teams and local backyard grillers take as seriously as you can a piece of meat slathered in sauce simmering over a bed of glowing charcoal. The 10th annual festival is sanctioned through the Memphis Barbecue Network and is a Specialty Patio & Championship Level Competition.
While there will be plenty of meat a-grillin’, there’s more to Que than just barbecue. There will be things for the kids, a spring fashion show, a Bloody Mary bar, a pet parade, arts and crafts vendors, and a 2-mile fun run for people who need to exercise. So, bring the beer drinkers, teetotalers, pork eaters, vegans, music lovers and the tone-deaf, but remember, leave the coolers in the back of the truck.
As always, Que on the Yazoo is the product of hard work by Main Street Greenwood, which also gets credit for this year’s festival slogan: “2019: The Year of the Pig.” T-shirts are available.
If you’re among the $1,000-and-up sponsors of the events, new for the big weekend will be the Thursday night kickoff party at Old City Hall with dinner cooked up on Primo Grills, the new ceramic grill craze.
The music portion of the Que kicks off Friday, May 3, with Glen Fortinberry & The Tallahatchie Cats at 6 p.m., Burnham Road at 7, and the headliner, Jason Miller Band, at 9:30. Jason Miller Band is a Southern country rock band out of Starkville featuring musicians from across the state. The group was scheduled to be the main act at this year’s Greenwood Music Fest before it was rained out.
The music on Saturday, May 4, is strictly the blues with McKinney Williams at 11:30 a.m., Ben Wiley Payton at 12:45 p.m., and Mississippi Marshall from 3 to 5.
In the barbecue competition, the Patio Division is open to everyone in the whole hog, pulled pork, loin, ribs, catfish, chicken, sauce, beans and cocktail categories. The Champion Level competes in whole hog, pulled pork and ribs. If you don’t like pork, Que on the Yazoo also features a Steak Cook-Off Association-sanctioned Steak Competition.
If the aroma of all that cooking gets you hungry on Friday, food trucks will be downtown starting at noon. Main Street Greenwood Executive Director Brantley Snipes said one upgrade to this year’s Que was to make more food available, if that is possible.
The first competitive event is also new this year, a Cornhole Tournament from 4 to 6 p.m. on May 3. Teams can register for $65 for an afternoon of friendly competition starting at 4 p.m., all vying to reign for a year as Que Cornhole Champion.
Less ambitious folk can sit back and take in Fincher’s Spring Fashion Show, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Saturday morning, get the kids up early, dress up the dog (remember the theme “The Year of the Pig”) and head down for the Pet Pawrade, beginning at Howard and Front streets at 9 a.m. There will be prizes for the best costume, canine characteristics, along with certificates and a medal for participants (one per family, please).
Just to keep the Pet Pawrade as a fun family event, there are rules: All dogs must have collars and be on leashes at all times. No chains or ropes will be allowed. They must at all times be under control. No females in season are allowed. No wolf hybrids or pit bulls allowed. Only persons registered may participate in the contests and win prizes. All dogs must show proof of rabies tags if over 4 months old.
Starting at 10 a.m., two significant events get underway. People in running clothes will drink a beer at the Keesler Bridge, then run to the Tallahatchie Bridge, where they will drink another beer and run back. Less ambitious people will find their way to the Bloody Mary Bar as it opens or browse vendor booths filled with arts and crafts located along Howard Street..
Outside the sanctioned cooking competition, people will have their say in the People’s Choice Competition, open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wrist bands are $8 and allow you to sample and vote for the best grillers in various categories. The competition is at Main and Front streets at the Viking Range Training Center.
And if delicious barbecued meat and sauces just aren’t enough, you can pile on Sonic burgers as you compete for the title of Que Burger Eating Champion. Participants in this event had to register by Wednesday, but you can still watch at the Main Stage as adults try for the best time as they slam 25 Sonic Junior Burgers.
Youth will be limited to 15 Junior Burgers, with a trophy, cash, a Sonic gift card and the lofty title hanging in the balance.
Kids’ activities will be going on all day May 4, including the ArtPlace Artzone and Game Zone, bull riding by Calvary Rodeo, rides on a Radio Flyer Wagon, face painting, culinary and art vendors, a piggy photo box and more.
And what’s a barbecue without a hog-calling contest? You can see the best and those who attempt to be, starting at 3:30 p.m. All winners will be announced as the festival wraps up for another year at 5 p.m.
The 2018 version of Que on the Yazoo generated $441,275 in economic value to Greenwood, according to a study done by Mississippi State University Extension Service Center for Government and Community Development. Visitors who traveled more than 50 miles to attend the Que left $257,763 in Greenwood, more that two-thirds of the cost of the event.
“This is our best sponsorship year yet,” Snipes said, with 46 sponsors, both cash and in-kind, for more than $50,000. She said the festival could still use more as it is in a deficit and relies on the fest as a Main Street fundraiser to sponsor activities and programs throughout the year.
•Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.