Weather Helped & Hurt Squealin’ On the Square

The weather was a factor in both positive and negative ways this weekend for the 19th Annual Squealin’ On the Square Barbeque Festival. Main Street Laurens Director Jonathan Irick said the 90-plus degree heat Friday reduced the number of people who usually come to the square for Friday lunch, but crowds were good for Friday night.

Irick said that as the cold front came through our area in the overnight, some six to eight tents used by vendors were destroyed in the wind, with tent materials and other items found scattered around early Saturday morning. A couple tents at the Down on the Farm area were reportedly had less damage.

With the cooler temperatures Saturday, Jonathan Irick said crowds were good the start the day. There was some impact on the crowds later Saturday afternoon when the light drizzle began. As heavier rain arrived on the square around 5:45, many more lift. Irick said a faithful, smaller group remained and enjoyed music by the Flashbacks Saturday night.

Barbeque teams from East Tennessee took top honors in the Kansas City Barbeque Society judging. Jackie & Sherry’s Smoke on This”  team from Lenoir City was named the Grand Champion. With the $2,000 Grand Prize and top placements in Pork and Pork Ribs, they took home the Grand Champion trophy and cash winnings of $3,150. The Reserve Grand Champion trophy this year went to Jeff and Cindy Thompson’s River Road Grillbillies of Kingston, Tennessee. In addition to the trophy, this team took home $2,150 in winnings, which included the $1,500 2nd place award. The Thompson’s also took 1st place in the Brisket category. They were pleased with the imported Imperial Waguy brisket they used.   Nard’s Backyard BBQ team of Piedmont, SC took 1st place in the Chicken category this weekend. Their overall finish was in 15th place.

In other competition for this year’s Squealin’ on the Square, Winnie Page of Virginia won the Adult Category in the Pickle Eating Contest. Ella Rinacor won the Young Adult category while Nathan Bell won the Teen category.

The winner of the Zaxby’s Insane Hot wings contest was Mike Rochowiak of Laurens, eating five insanely hot wings, followed by drinking his share of the 2 gallons of milk to help folks recover from the intensity of the hot wings.

The Squealin’ organizers are looking at new ideas for next year. Jonathan Irick said one idea under serious consideration is a Steak Grilling event for 2020, saying this is becoming more and more popular. He said it may be held during Squealin’ or at another event during the year.