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BBQ Festival on the Neuse returns this year in downtown Kinston

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 10:37 PM EDT
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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - The BBQ Festival on the Neuse is one of the largest whole hog cook-offs in our state, and it takes place in Kinston annually. But the festival was canceled last year due to COVID-19, and although the BBQ Festival will take place this year after being granted a special use permit Tuesday night by Kinston City Council., it will look a lot different.

Most people in Eastern North Carolina are pretty biased when it comes to barbecue they like best.

“I do love eastern North Carolina BBQ. Eastern North Carolina is the best BBQ there is,” said one Kinston resident.

He’s not alone. Other people in Kinston say Eastern North Carolina is the best they’ve had, and they will get a chance to taste different kinds of barbecue in just a few short weeks when the BBQ Festival on the Neuse sets up in downtown Kinston.

The festival’s director Jan Parson said, “It is huge. It is really important that we all understand that we still need to socialize. We still need to see people, just in a safe way.”

Organizers canceled the BBQ Festival on the Neuse last year due to COVID-19, but it’s on again this year but with changes due to the pandemic still being a concern.

Only 65 cooking entries will be allowed, compared to the usual 100. 75 to 85 vendors can participate, which is smaller than years past, and vendors, cooks, and even the cars in the car show will be socially distanced.

The director says festival-goers have a role to play in keeping the festival safe.

Parson said the festival will have volunteers that will encourage people to wear their mask, social distance, use the hand sanitizer and wash their hands.

There also won’t be a carnival this year. Still, the BBQ festival director says children’s entertainment and stage performances continue, and they say people should not be discouraged about the changes.

The BBQ Festival on the Neuse will be on May 7th from 5 pm to 10 pm and May 8th from 10 am to 5 pm along Heritage street.

If you plan on attending, make sure you bring a blanket or chairs because tables and chairs will not be provided this year due to the pandemic.

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