BBQ & Barrels hits weather jackpot

Weather hasn’t always been kind to the BBQ & Barrels festival, formerly the International Bar-B-Q Festival.

But there were no weather complaints to be heard from vendors or attendees Saturday afternoon, with sunshine and a nice breeze — which sent the aroma of barbecue down 2nd Street — providing a perfect environment for the event.

“The weather has been fantastic, so it’s a lot more foot traffic than we’ve seen over the last couple of years, because we’ve always had a little bit iffy weather,” said Bruce Tucker, a longtime member of the Precious Blood cooking team. “It’s been great for us cooking, and it’s been great for the crowd.”

Precious Blood has been a mainstay of the festival since its inception.

“We’ve enjoyed it,” Tucker said. “It’s good camaraderie with the other cooking teams. We all work together if someone needs something.”

Precious Blood was selling whole chickens, leg quarters, burgee and barbecue sandwiches. They made five 75-gallon kettles of of burgoo.

“It’s been great; we’re selling food about as fast as we can cook it,” Tucker said. “We have good quality.”

While the Precious Blood cooking team brings years of experience to the festival, Immaculate Parish brought a team for the first time.

“The city has really wanted to try to bring churches back, so we thought, ‘Let’s give it a try,’ ” team member Adam Johnston said. “It’s a great fundraiser, and it’s a great event overall for the city.

“We’ve always done cooks the same weekend at our church, but we thought we’d get into it and see what we can do. We got enough help, so we decided to give it a shot. It’s turned out to be beneficial.”

Immaculate was selling pulled pork, hot dogs, pork burgers, chicken and burgoo.

“The crowd has been great,” Johnston said. “It was good yesterday, but it’s been even better today. We have to attribute a lot of that to the weather. We will definitely be back.”

Katie Whelpdale, of Louisville, works for Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati. She was working with Mellow Mushroom, one of the brewery’s customers, to serve craft beers from a large company truck.

“We set up at different events with the truck,” said Whelpdale, who covers western Kentucky and Nashville for the brewery. “This is a great opportunity to have people who have never tried our product to experience Rhinegeist.”

Whelpdale said she usually goes to beer festivals, which have a much less diverse slate of offerings than BBQ & Barrels.

“All of the festivals are very different, but mostly I’m at beer festivals, so everything revolves around beer,” she said. “This one is a lot bigger with the carnival and food and business.

There was a consistent line of customers at the truck throughout the early afternoon.

“Business has been pretty good,” she said, “and we expect it to pick up as the day goes on.”