Chamber gearing up for Blues and Barbecue

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce is preparing to fill Pelham with the aroma of everything from slow-cooked barbecue ribs to sweet dessert dishes Oct. 1 at the Verizon Wireless Music Center.

The Chamber’s first Blues and Barbecue event, which is sponsored by the city of Pelham, will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, and will feature musicians and grill masters from across the country.

“We were looking for a fun community event that people of all ages in Shelby County and beyond could come out and enjoy,” said Chamber President Jennifer Whisenant. “I am really excited, because this is the first time we’ve done this, and we already have a huge backing.”

Throughout the day, barbecue teams from many states will set up their grills and vie for the designation of tastiest food of the event. The cook-off will feature categories for chicken, pork, ribs and dessert, Whisenant said.

“The dessert category is non-restricted, so it can be any kind of dessert. I think that’s the one I’m most excited about,” Whisenant said with a laugh.

While the competitors are grilling away, a slew of blues musicians will rock the music center’s Charter Pavilion stage. The Blue Devils will begin playing at 1:15 p.m., Bourbon and Bleach will begin at 2:30 p.m., Ray Cashman will play at 3:45 p.m., The John Bull Band will begin at 5 p.m. and Cyril Neville will take the stage at 6:30 p.m.

Because Auburn will be playing at South Carolina and Alabama will play at Florida on Oct. 1, event organizers will set up a tailgate area to show the day’s matchups, Whisenant said.

The event will also feature a kid’s area with inflatable games, a Lowe’s craft area and a Harley-Davidson-sponsored “Very Important Bikers” section near the Charter Pavilion.

“We really appreciate all of our sponsors. The city of Pelham really stepped up to be our presenting sponsor,” Whisenant said. “We will have something for everybody.”

Tickets for the event are $5, and are available at Shelbybluesandbbq.org. Tickets will also be available at the gate the day of the event.