It's finally time for Quincyfest

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Blues, barbecue, family fun, art, cars and more

By Alice Du Pont

 From the time the sun sets over Quincy Friday evening until the street lights burn Saturday night, the city will be buzzing with excitement this weekend. This is Quincyfest weekend and people from all over north Florida will flood into town for the music, the food and the fun.
    Presented by the city of Quincy, the long-planned event has steadily drawn more visitors each year. Last year over 5,000 combined visited downtown over a two day period. Other sponsors this year include: Xclusive VIP Fashions, Comcast, Gadsden County Tobacco Free, Cumulus Broadcasting, WCTV, TCBA Watson and Rice, Piggly Wiggly, Tri-Eagle Sales, Larry White, Quincy BP, Bell and Bates, Supervalu, Quincy Shell, Capital City Bank, Focus Credit Union, Quincy Health & Rehab, Premier Bank, Talquin Electric, Inc. and Douglas Croley.
    "I have seen it grow from basically one afternoon with homegrown entertainment to the 17 hours we have now," said Jack McLean, Quincy's city manager, adding "we have about six hours on Friday night and 11 hours on Saturday. For a community the size of ours that's quite an accomplishment. I applaud our volunteers who have been working on since just after the 2010 Quincyfest. I must say that I am extremely proud that our sponsors are supporting us in such numbers."
    Friday night's entertainment, according to Community Redevelopment Director Charles Hayes, will feature Friday Night Live, a Tallahassee based group of young, talented people. The evening starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m.
    "Their show will be a blues review. In honor of the weekend, they'll perform a lot of throwback blues music. People can look to hear music made famous by artists like from the likes of Joe Simon, CoCo Taylor, Mel Waiters, Otis Redding and Betty Wright. They might even go back to the 40s and 50s with blues songs made famous by people like John Lee Hooker, Bessie Smith, Blind Willie Johnson, BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Charley Jordan and Mississippi John Hurt," Hayes said.
    Hayes said no one should eat Friday night before they leave home because vendors will be offering a variety of foods, drinks and deserts for sale.
    "We're closing down Friday night so that people can get a good nights sleep and be ready to start again at 10 a.m," he said.
    Barbecue vendors will begin cooking as early at 6 a.m. Saturday and the unmistakeable aroma of outdoor barbecue on the grill will fill the air over Quincy. Experts in the preparation of ribs, pork and chicken will be basting and coaxing all of the flavor and color out of the entries that will go to the judges, a group of unknown barbecue connoisseurs from Gadsden and surrounding counties.
    "All of the contestants entering the cook-off will be judged by what we call blind judging. The plates are turned in at a predetermined time and a assigned a number. The judges have no idea whose food they are tasting and judging. Even the judges won't know the winners until the results are announced later Saturday afternoon," Hayes said.
     That's doesn't mean there won't be barbecue throughout the day, as many at 15 vendors will be offering a variety of barbecues meats, sides, and drinks starting at 10 a.m.
    Family musical entertainment starts at 12 noon with local talent taking the main stage.
    Brother John Band:  12 noon to 12:30 p.m.
    Bruised Brass Band: 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
    Interstate Heartbreak: 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
    TCC African Drum/Dance Ensemble: 3 p.m. to 3:30p.m.
    After a hour break southern soul great Otis Clay takes to the stage from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The former deep south gospel singer who has the raw vocals of legendary blues singers like Wilson Pickett and Solomon Burke.
    Karen Wolfe follows Clay from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will close out the evening. She has been compared to the likes of the legendary Denise LaSalle for whom she sang background. Her roots are in gospel but she knows her way around the blues. Her current hit on the southern soul chart is called "If You're Man Enough To Leave; I'll Be Woman Enough To Let You Go."
    For those who want VIP seating close to the stage fro Clay and Wolfe, preferred seating is available in a roped off area in front of the stage. The seating is $30 per person or $50 for two. The VIP area entitles the ticket holder to wine and cheese or other refreshments and a Quincyfest souvenir. For preferred seating, call Alma Goss at 618-0030, ext. 6692.
    The kids can spend the afternoon in Kids Alley starting at 1 p.m.  at the Gadsden Arts Center. Sponsored by Barkley Security, they can enjoy craft activities, face painting, portrait demonstrations and guided gallery tours, all free. Children must be accompanied by an adult on the guided gallery tour. In addition, guests are invited to browse through the craft artists booths on the east side of the Square. See how jewelry is made, baskets are woven and other handmade crafts that are for sale.
       If cool cars interest you, there will be several clubs on hand to talk about their hot rods, antiques and other classic wheels at the car show corral on West Washington Street.
    Bring the kids, bring the family, bring the lawn chairs and the blankets. Prepare to have a family outing in the sunshine and get to know Quincy all over again. Remember to leave the pets (all kinds) at home or with a sitter and because the event is smoke free, please do not bring or use tobacco products throughout the festival.