‘Where else can you find muscadine juice?’

Festival volunteers stay shaded from the harsh afternoon sun as they dish out smoked and sauced barbecue favorites catered by Freddie Day Catering on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, at the 7th Annual Bernard Blues and BBQ Festival. (Cayla Grace Murphy)

Saint Bernard welcomes visitors for 7th Annual Bernard Blues and BBQ

CULLMAN, Ala. – Attendees and competitors from all across the Southeast gathered on the picturesque grounds of Saint Bernard Preparatory School Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9-10, for the seventh annual Bernard Blues and BBQ Festival.

This year’s fest was a delight to all senses, with live soulful and twangy blues music, the scent and flavor of delectably smoked and sauced barbecue and a long list of colorful artisans selling their wares far across the campus.

The entertainment lineup was stacked with the serenading sounds of The Charlie Soul Band opening Saturday’s festivities, The Sinners opening Sunday’s and Kingfisher closing out the event.

Local culinary and catering favorite Freddie Day was the talk of this year’s experience, with a tent packed to the edges with patrons waiting for volunteers to dish out signature chicken quarters, ribs and pulled pork. This year’s event also featured a first for Saint Bernard – a world-class cookoff sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, with Smokey Bees Competition BBQ Team taking home the bragging rights as grand champion and PuckDaddy Killer Q the reserve grand champion.

Artisans and makers have become a mainstay of the Saint Bernard festival scene with Bernard Blues and BBQ being no exception. The campus grounds were dotted with tents housing creatives of all ages and mediums offering their crafts, ranging from typical fares like sublimated shirts and tumblers, boutique clothing and baked goods to more bespoke creations like wood carvings, metalcrafts and stained glass. There was something even the most seasoned art critic could appreciate.

While the festival draws in hundreds of attendees from all across the region, Cullman locals also enjoy getting to take in the action. Attendee Zachary Rice said that while this was his first year attending it certainly won’t be the last.

“I think it’s really cool we get to have stuff like this here in Cullman, especially because we live just down the road,” he smiled.

“The band has been great, and I mean, where else can you find muscadine juice?” he quipped, holding up a bag from vendor Sweet Home Foods.

Rice’s friend and fellow local Tyler Woods chimed in, “I’m a simple man; I don’t usually do festivals. I was bribed to come here with barbecue, and so far it has been worth it.”

The festival, which acts as a fundraiser for Saint Bernard Preparatory School, required a $10 donation per person for admission. A final total raised was not available as of print time.

To stay up to date on future events or to learn more about Saint Bernard Preparatory School, visit www.stbernardprep.com.

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