Barbecue on the River will celebrate its 25th year of raising money through down-home cooking when the event kicks off on Sept. 25, but one, new aspect is expected to grab people's attention right away. This year, the celebration will push past the floodgates and actually be held along the river.
A second beer garden sponsored by Cassidy's Cause will be placed on the Wilson Stage on Paducah's Riverfront from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and will feature a beer, wine and a Bloody Mary bar. To help people find the new feature, a special sign was created by Angie Jackson of Cassidy's Cause, a therapeutic horse riding academy. The sign has two horses clinking steins of beer with the words "Cassidy's Cause Saloon."
"Barbecue on the River is finally going to break through those floodwalls, and we are going to have an organized event down there," said event co-creator and co-coordinator Susie Coiner. "It's going to be beautiful. (Cassidy's Cause) is partnering with one of our famous barbecuers, J-Mack, so they will be providing sandwiches and nachos inside the beer garden."
The Main Stage beer garden, sponsored this year by Family Service Society, will feature beer and margaritas and will be found in front of Main Stage from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
The charitable fundraising event opens Sept. 25 and lasts through Sept. 28. Along the way, barbecue teams will compete for the title of grand champion, and event-goers will enjoy live music each night, a 5K run and, of course, barbecue. There is no admission charge.
Marking this 25th year, organizers are grateful for those who take part, and those who donate as well.
"We want to be really clear about what has made our festival so great, and that's because these guys cook the best barbecue in the world," Coiner said. "It's very rare that you can go to one space and try 30 different (pork) butts coming off the same truck but cooked in an artistic way. You don't see that everywhere, that the public can consume that."
T-shirts for the event will go on sale Sept. 4, and a mandatory meeting for participating barbecue teams will be held Sept. 5 at the Farmers Market pavilion.
"U.S. Foods is present that day, and that is when all the barbecuers place their protein order for all their pork and chicken," Coiner said. "That comes to over 90,000 pounds of meat that is ordered that day. The barbecuers and food vendors get their official spots that day."
Coiner estimated more than 40,000 people will turn out for this year's event. More than 75 charities will take part and help raise about $450,000.
"We raised $468,000 last year," Coiner said. "Over 75 charities benefited, and about 50,000 people turned out."
The mission of Barbecue on the River, as stated on its website, bbqontheriver.org, is "Raise the most money for charity, cook the best barbecue in the country and draw the biggest crowd to historic downtown Paducah." This year's event schedule and more information about the event can be found at that website.