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  • Barbecue plays big part of festival

  • The N.C. Blueberry Festival, now into its second decade in Burgaw, is beginning to make memories.
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  • The N.C. Blueberry Festival, now into its second decade in Burgaw, is beginning to make memories.
    Its barbecue cook-off has been doing that since Day One.
    More than 30,000 folks are once again expected to visit the 11th annual N.C. Blueberry Festival on Saturday in downtown Burgaw.
    But the cooks and the cookers will be firing things up Friday night in the Family Dollar parking lot.
    By the time the festival closes Saturday evening, hundreds of pounds of barbecue will be sold and eaten נby the pound, for $6, but mostly as a sandwich, with or without slaw, and including a soft drink, for $5.
    I prefer vinegar-based barbecue, says chair Kim Blackburn, who grew up in Burgaw and knows her stuff. But all of it will be prepared plain so everyone can choose their own sauces, and there will be about five or six of those to pick from.
    Burgaw barbecue lovers can get an early start Friday morning when the Pender Athletic Club starts barbecue sales at 11 a.m. Or follow the smell from the pigs being cooked by 16 different barbecue gurus over charcoal, wood or gas beginning Friday night and lasting through Saturday morning, as outlined by Blackburn:
    The cook-off cooking begins at 9 p.m. Friday in the Family Dollar parking lot;
    early Saturday morning, the cookers are back at in the parking lot;
    Around 8 a.m. the judges will pick the winners, who will be announced during the Opening Ceremony at 10 a.m.;
    Once the winners are picked, then well get it chopped up and brought over to the Courthouse Square as quickly as we can, says Blackburn. And theyll sell it from there all day Saturday.
    Blackburn, who is treasurer of the Pender Athletic Club, says profits from the sale of barbecue נminus prize money to the winning cookers נare split between the PAC and the festival. Pender High School student athletes take shifts over the two days helping to prepare and sell barbecue.
    Meanwhile, the festival continues to champion its signature product, the beautiful blueberry, as a first-class health food.
    Does that give Blackburn pause?
    I have not one bit of remorse about that, she says, dismissing any conflict.
    Hey, this is Burgaw, North Carolina.
    Were gonna do up the barbecue.
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