The ambiance of sizzling charcoal will soon be drifting down the Red River as the City of Alexandria hosts its annual barbecue festival, “Que’in on the Red,” March 18th and 19th. In its sixth year of existence, “Que’in on the Red” has proven successful and has delivered on the vision as set forth in City Council Resolution No. 7842-2005 adopted October 25, 2005. The Resolution recognizes the festival’s origin as a goal of the local citizenry and community leaders to develop and promote the city’s attributes. It goes on further to identify “Que’in on the Red” as Alexandria’s chief City-run festival, only behind Mardi Gras in local impact.
As a project of the Division of Community Services, “Que’in on the Red” functions as a result of the division’s chartered responsibility of: programs of athletics; recreational activities; cultural activities such as libraries, concerts, art museums and exhibits; parks and playgrounds; and other leisure time and cultural activities and functions of the city. In years one through five, “Que’in” was supported in part by the division’s budget allocating of $100,000.00. As the economy offers challenges to the budget, that dependency is now non-existent, requiring the festival to reach self-sustainment beginning in 2011.
Several recommendations from city-administration were made to achieve sustainability:
- • “Que’in” must exist without budgeted funds for the next three (3) years.
- • “Que’in” should use remaining funds, with no funds from the general operating budget of the City, as seed money for this year.
- • Re-deployment of “Que’in” as a family-friendly barbecue festival with great music and other activities.
- • Re-deployment of “Que’in” by using “up and coming” acts and “touring” acts who, while popular and able to attract crowds, are economically competitive.
- • “Que’in” will remain priced to allow for all citizens to enjoy it; however, some premium needs to be in place for buy-in and self-sustenance.
As a Memphis Barbecue Network sanctioned competition, “Que’in” attracts competitive teams from across the United States including Central Louisiana. With six categories in which to compete; whole hog, shoulder, ribs, poultry, beef and sauce, teams gather to prove their secret sauces, rubs and grilling techniques have what it takes to be the Grand Champion of the Red.
Many of the participating teams travel the “barbecue circuit” competing in sanctioned and non-sanctioned competitions. For local teams not familiar with the circuit, “Que’in” provides an opportunity for them to perfect their skills and network with professional teams with years of experience. In 2010, several local teams were among the winners in both the MBN categories and the ancillary competition.
To ensure a fair and just competition, and maintain the integrity of the judging process, MBN provides trained, knowledgeable and qualified judges who judge teams on taste, tenderness and presentation. The goal of MBN is to be attentive to the needs of competing teams and recognize their hard work and investment of time and resource. They also provide communication, support and organization to existing contests as they prepare to host teams traveling the circuit. Currently, there are MBN sanctioned contests throughout the country in more than 12 states, with over 500 different teams competing in the competitions.
To create an inclusive competition, “Que’in Kid’s Cookoff,” was added to the festival’s list of activities. This competition gives youth ages 8-17 the opportunity to compete for prizes and bragging rights as well. With two categories in which to compete, “Chop Soooy” (pork chops) and “Chicken Little” (chicken), teams consisting of four members with one member being an adult, square off on Saturday morning before a host of local celebrity judges. Winners are awarded trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. A complete sweep of the competition gives you bragging rights for the year.
For the adult competition, “Que’in on the Red” offers an attractive purse. Winning teams receive $10,000 in cash, prizes, and trophies. The competition’s grand champion receives $2,500, registration in MBN’s annual champion competition and a one-of-a-kind art piece designed by local artist Anne Reid. First place winners in each MBN category; whole hog, pork shoulder, and pork ribs, receive $1,000 and a trophy. Second place winners receive $800 and a trophy. Third place winners receive $400 and a trophy. Fourth place winners receive $200 and a trophy. Fifth place winners receive $100 and a trophy. The ancillary prizes are awarded with trophies for 1st through 3rd place.
This year’s musical line-up will highlight Louisiana artists and their music. On Friday evening beginning at 6:30pm, the Tim Turner Band will kick off the festival’s musical entertainment. Tim recently moved to Nashville, TN from Louisiana so he could pursue music full time. Tim reformed his band with original drummer Jed Smith and bassist Rob Bratcher. Their first all original CD was completed March 2009. They have played dates in Nashville and are no strangers to the “Que’in” stage. In 2009, the Tim Turner Band opened for Blues Traveler.
The evening’s headline act, Marc Broussard, will take the stage at 8:30pm. Broussard’s music combines the many flavors of his Louisiana bayou home. His first self-titled album is touted as great music pulled from the heart delivered with deep emotion that has long marked him as one of the great vocalist of our time.
On Saturday, March 19th, Louisiana Cajun musician John Trahan performs at 2:00pm. Trahan recently completed recording what he calls “a tribute to his influences and mentors” in which he salutes the Cajun music he grew up listening to with his parents as well his love for the state of Louisiana. The title track of his new CD, “My My Louisiana,” was co-written by Eddy Raven and Jimmy C. Newman.
This unique performance will be followed by Bayou Chicot native James Dupre. Recently signing a record deal with Warner Bros. Records, Dupre’s incredible voice and genuine country sound has led to a following of loyal, loving fans world-wide and resulted in an appearance on the Ellen show and a successful debut album.
J Paul Jr. and The Zydeco Nubreeds will take the stage immediately following the “Que’in” awards ceremony at 6:30pm. The band has taken the French Creole music of rural Southwest Louisiana and blended it with sounds of blues, R&B, Hip Hop and Gospel. Performing hit songs from their recently released CD, “Rebel IV Life,” this band is sure to energize the crowd.
Headlining the evening is George Porter, Jr. and Runnin’ Pardners. Known as New Orleans Premier Bass Player, Porter has a career spanning for decades. He has made a deep impression with his work with the Meters. His latest collection, “Porter Batiste Stiltz”, is the ultimate jam band tunes.
Completing the festival’s entertaining offerings, a children’s area featuring a carnival with games and rides, will be offered.
“Que’in” would not be possible without the support of its community partners. Those include the Greater Alexandria Economic Development authority (GAEDA), the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the Alexandria/Pineville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Paragon Casino Resort, Hixson Autoplex, Wright & Percy Insurance, IESI, Pan American Engineers, Medical Analysis, Payne Moore and Herrington and Southwest Beverage.
Festival gates will open at 4:00pm on Friday, March 19th and 12:00noon on Saturday, March 20th. Admission is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children 12 and under. For more information on “Que’in on the Red”, visit the festival’s website at www.queinonthered.com. Be sure to view the preview video produced by Hometown Productions, Inc.