Hungry? How about a plate full of award-winning barbeque?
One hundred of the best barbeque teams around are set to converge on Coolray Field for the fifth annual Sip & Swine BBQ Festival. It all happens on March 5-6 and proceeds benefit Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter. Admission and parking at the festival are free of charge.
“It is, by far, the most popular barbeque festival in Atlanta,” says Jim Lloyd, who organizes the festival with his wife Cindy.
“It’s great barbeque. It’s music. It’s all types of vendors — crafts and everything. And it’s just a good festival,” explained Jim. “You can go out there and have a good time for a good cause.”
Plenty of other people agree. Attendance typically tops 12,000.
So, how’d this rite of spring get its start?
Jim, also a Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter board member, said it all started when his love for competitive barbeque collided with a heart for giving back.
“We’d been going to these barbeque competitions for a while and I felt like — why not organize one have all the proceeds go to the [children’s] shelter?” he explained.
“Plus, I like a challenge,” he joked.
Together, Jim, Cindy, and more than 200 volunteers work to make the festival happen. And every year, they’re wowed by the community support the festival enjoys. Some give outright donations to help the festival happen. Others give supplies at cost.
Every donation makes a difference. During the last four years, they’ve raised $150,000+ for Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter.
“I just reach out to a lot of my friends,” said Jim. “And people have been very kind and very supportive.”
All the volunteer support and donations add up to help create a festival that grows more popular every year.
“God’s just really blessed us over the years,” he said. “And the first week of March you never really know what the weather can be. But we’ve just been blessed. It’s been beautiful weather on Saturday.”
One of the most popular parts of Sip & Swine? The People’s Choice Award.
On Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., attendees can get a plate full of samples from competing teams for $10 and vote for their favorite.
“That’s your chance to sample what these teams are cooking,” explained Jim. “And the public really supports that. It’s one of the most popular fundraisers [of the weekend].”
The overall goal, says Jim, is to offer a fun-filled weekend that also makes a difference for families in need.
“It’s a fun time and a good cause,” he added. “It’s a great feeling to be able to help out those who are less fortunate than we are. If we can do just a little something to help them, we love being able to do that.”