Ham & Yam Festival boasts state BBQ champs, Little River Band

Posted April 30, 2009 11:51 a.m. EDT

Smithfield's annual Ham and Yam Festival will once again host the North Carolina State Barbecue Championship this weekend, marking the events' 25h anniversary together.

The four-day event kicks off with the Kiwanis Ham & Yam Supper at Smithfield-Selma High School from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, organizers will accept entries for the "What's That Yam Thing" contest at River City Arts, 109 S. Third St.

Then on Saturday, the barbecue chefs and street festival take over downtown.

Twenty-five chefs, who have won or placed in the top five of a North Carolina Pork Council-sanctioned contest, will start cooking Saturday morning. After judging at noon, festival-goers can chow down for the rest of the weekend.

Little River Band will headline the main concert at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the Neuse River Amphitheater. Admission is free.

“Each year we try to bring in a nationally known and popular act,” said Chris Johnson, executive director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation and Ham & Yam coordinator. "Since we are celebrating the 25th Ham & Yam, we wanted to make a step up with big-name entertainment. ... You can’t get any better than a group like the Little River Band that has over 10 Top 40 hits."

The street festival will run through 5 p.m. Sunday, with free musical entertainment on three stages, arts and crafts for sale, children's activities and other exhibits.

The festival is organized by the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation.