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BBQ replaces arts as Danville fall festival focus

March 10, 2012|By TODD┬┐KLEFFMAN | tkleffman@amnews.com
  • Celebrity pitmasters like Moe Cassion make last year's Kentucky State BBQ Festival a popular event in Danville.
File photo

Danville’s first-ever Kentucky State BBQ Festival left such a good taste that it has been moved to the favorable fall weekend slot long occupied by the Constitution Square Arts Fest.

“The overwhelming success of the BBQ festival was the bottom line,” said Charlie Cox, interim director of Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “The community said this is the kind of festival we want.”

The BBQ festival will be staged at Constitution Square the weekend of Sept. 8-9, which for many years was the designated weekend for the arts festival, both when it was sponsored by the state and the last three years after Heart of Danville took over. 

Arts and artists will still be a featured part of the weekend, but will take a back seat to the smoking pitmasters, live music and other accoutrements of an expanded BBQ fest, said Janet Hamner, HOD’s promotions chairwoman.

“We are going to invite our local artists, and maybe even regional artists, to participate, we just haven’t figured out the details yet,” Hamner said, adding one idea is to set up art vendors along Main Street between Constitution Square and the Community Arts Center.

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BBQ festival organizers Brad and Cindy Simmons had a short time frame to stage last year’s, which was held on the first weekend of November. The lineup of celebrity pitmasters preparing their food on site and regional musicians drew larger than expected crowds, with estimates of up to 25,000 attending over the two days.

By comparison, the arts festival usually brought between 6,000 and 7,000 people to town and required the input of city and state funds, Hamner said.

“While this weekend has traditionally been the date of the arts festival, Heart of Danville officials have agreed that the community will be better served by working together,” she said. “It gives us a chance for good weather and longer daylight hours, allowing us to reach a bigger audience. We found the community’s response to the BBQ festival to be exceptional and we feel we can bring a more concentrated volunteer focus to a single event for downtown.”

BBQ festival organizers plan to meet this week with officials at the arts center to discuss ways to incorporate the best of the arts festival into what promises to be a bigger, saucier party this fall.

“Danville made the celebrity pitmasters from last year feel so welcome, they are all excited to return,” Brad Simmons said. “This year will see the event grow and spill into downtown.”

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