Ohio barbecue doesn't have quite the same mouthwatering connotations as, say, Memphis or Kansas City.
But with time - and, perhaps, the Brick Street BBQ event in Marietta this weekend - that could change, local people hope.
"Absolutely," said Hunt Brawley, one of the organizers of the Brick Street BBQ and director of the Colony Theatre, which is receiving all proceeds from the event. "I think that was part of the point in what we were trying to do here - create a little bit of a presence."
Marietta will be filled with more than the sweet, delectable smells of barbecue this weekend, though.
The summer's first Merchants & Artists Walk will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday night, and will feature an expanded offering from Marietta businesses and artists, said Wendy Wharff, executive director of the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"ReStore has worked out a way to expand the walk so they could bring in some partners that are not downtown but want to have a presence there," she said.
- Merchants and Artists Walk, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Brick Street BBQ
3 p.m. - Gate opens.
6 - The Fossils.
8 - McGuffey Lane.
8 a.m. - Backyard BBQ contest begins.
9 - Gate opens, bike rally registration.
1 p.m. - Backyard BBQ awards.
2 - The Slack Family Bluegrass Band.
3 - People's Choice tasting begins.
4 - Bike rally awards.
4:15 - Jon Justice Band.
5 - People's Choice tasting ends.
5 - Brick Street BBQ awards.
5:45 - Jon Justice Band.
8 - Debbie Davies & Robin Rogers Band
On the Net
Brick Street BBQ - www.brickstreetbbq.com
More than 30 merchants will be participating.
Helping solidify Marietta's place in the push for barbecue supremacy is the recent announcement by Gov. Ted Strickland that this weekend's event would be considered Ohio's state championship.
That means the winning professional barbecue chef will earn a slot to compete in The Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational in Lynchburg, Tenn. In addition, as much as $10,000 in prize money is available from the local event, too, Brawley said.
Those are quite the progressions for the Brick Street BBQ, which is only in its second year of existence. Already sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the event also now serves as the first leg of the Ohio Triple Crown BBQ competition, with other events being held in Kettering and Nelsonville.
That legitimacy can be seen quantitatively, too. Last year, eight chefs came for the competition. This year, more than 40 competitors are expected from 13 states, as well as Canada and Australia.
"If you look at the names of the competitors on our list, a lot of these guys are coming from northern Ohio or Pennsylvania or other areas to come here," Brawley said.
The event, really more than just centered around food, kicks off at 3 p.m. Friday with the Secrets of the Masters barbecue demonstration where professional chefs will talk about what it means for the Brick Street BBQ to be a sanctioned event and what rules they have to follow because of that move.
At 6 p.m., rock band The Fossils will take the stage, followed by Columbus country group McGuffey Lane at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, the Backyard BBQ contest begins at 8 a.m., followed by the Mayor's Bike Rally registration at 9.
"Last year, the bike rally brought in between 500 and 600 bikes, and there were often two people on bikes," Wharff said.
Combined, the city could easily host several thousand out-of-towners over a two-day period, she said.
Music picks up again at 2 p.m., with the Slack Family Bluegrass Band and continues on through the night with two more blues acts.
Local food vendors and a Budweiser beer garden will also be set up.
There will also be People's Choice tastings and awards to be held, too.
Brawley said it's important for the public to know the competitors are not required to pass out donations, but they often do.
"We'd just ask them to go in and mingle with competitors but be aware of the times they're actually turning in the barbecue for the competition," he said. "Before and after, they'd be happy to let folks know anything about barbecue. That's the whole point, to get people in and have them mingle, learn a little something about barbecue."