They must be doing something right over there, because St. Bernard’s infant fall festival is already turning into a toddler — or, to steal a word from the event’s pig-themed sponsorship branding — a shoat.
Back for its third year after starting small in 2017, the Bernard Blues and BBQ festival returns next weekend with an expanded lineup of vendors, entertainers, and, of course, food.
The September complement to St. Bernard’s annual springtime Bloomin’ Festival, Blues and BBQ serves as a family-friendly, community-focused fundraiser for the monastery’s private prep school.
Like Bloomin’, Blues and BBQ is a two-day event, running from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. next weekend (Sept. 14 & 15).
A $5 donation gets you in the gate (parking’s free), and the only money you’ll spend after that will be wherever your will breaks down and you fail at resisting the all goodies on display.
The fledgling festival’s vendor lineup already has grown to nearly 100, up from from 60 last year, says event organizer and branding savant Joyce Nix. St. Bernard’s marketing director (and the original creator of the Bloomin’ Festival), Nix is the one who came up with the inspired idea to name the event’s sponsorship levels after porcine themes — an eye-grabbing and effective way to give the biggest investors in the event their money’s worth.
Porcine themes? Well, instead of assigning sponsors a precious metal depending on their contribution (think typical honorifics like platinum, gold, and silver), Nix devised a more squeal-worthy hierarchy: Top sponsors spring for the pricey-yet-coveted Hogfather tier, and lower levels of support descend swinishly through the ranks from there: Boss Hog, Show Pig, Piglet, and — squeak, squeak! — Shoat.
“I can’t stress it enough: If we don’t have sponsors, we don’t have an event, and this is a fun way to hopefully draw more attention than usual to all the wonderful businesses, organizations and people who support Blues and BBQ,” Nix explained. “They’re absolutely critical to what we do.”
Funding aside, the musical lineup for Saturday (Sept. 14) kicks off at 10 a.m. with the St. Bernard Prep School Choir, followed at 12 p.m. by Microwave Dave. Diedre the Alabama Blues Queen closes out the day with a set that begins at 3 p.m. The music picks up again on Sunday (Sept. 15) with the Southern Pride Band at 10 a.m., followed at 2 p.m. by the De Ja’ Blue Horns.
If you’re interesting in becoming a Hogfather yourself, Nix says sponsorships (as well as additional vendor slots) are still available. For more information on this year’s St. Bernard Blues and BBQ, visit stbernardprep.com/bernard-blues-bbq/.
Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 145.