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Organizers expect thousands to turn out this weekend for the fifth annual Main Street BBQ & Bluesfest in Downtown Washington.

Formerly known as the Cruise With the Blues, the event was expanded five years ago to include the professional barbecue competition, along with live Blues music.

“We’re excited about the musical lineup and we have our maximum 50 barbecue teams, plus a waiting list, so we’re ready to go,” said Aimee Frey, event coordinator for Downtown Washington Inc., which sponsors the family-oriented event.

Festival hours will be 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Frey said visitors can enjoy the music, full food court and a barbecue tasting event.

“From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, a tasting will be open to the public with the teams competing for the title of People’s Choice,” Frey said. “For only $7, people can enjoy a 1-ounce sample of pork from each team and then vote for their favorite.”

Frey said she is still looking for more volunteers to help pass out the samples so the teams can focus on their cooking. Anyone interested should call the Downtown Washington Inc. office at 636-239-1743.

The rest of the competition, sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society, is not open to the public, but people can watch the teams as they cook, competing for the title of grand champion, along with trophies, ribbons and cash prizes.

Frey said a total of 63 judges will select the winner.

“We have a couple of local judges, but most are coming in from other areas, including one as far away as Minnesota,” she said.

Friday night will feature the “Anything But” side competition for the teams, in which they can enter any breakfast item cooked on a grill that does not include meat as the main ingredient.

The teams will be cooking on the Main and Cedar parking lot, while the entertainment and food court will be on the Main and Elm parking lot. The Farmers’ Market will maintain its regular Saturday hours that weekend.

Musical Lineup

As the teams barbecue, there will be live music which kicks off with Brian Curran Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. followed by the BagLunch Blues Band from 7 to 10 p.m.

On Saturday, the Paul Cockrum Trio will perform from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., followed by Kingdom Brothers, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

The barbecue awards will be presented at about 4:30 p.m. with the event wrapping up about 5 p.m.

Frey said the festival will go on “rain or shine” with plenty of covered areas.

“We’re hoping for good weather and big crowds,” she said. “Last year, we had about 6,000 to 7,000 people over the two days.”

For more information on Main Street BBQ & Bluesfest, people may call Frey at 636-239-1743 or email events@downtownwashmo.org.