The barbecue was sizzling in one of the Civic Park covered picnic areas on Monday morning as Armidale Regional Council held a press conference with local media to announce The Big Chill - a barbecue and craft brewers/distillers event to be held in mid-May.
Scott Fittler from The Meating Place Craft Butchery and Smokehouse was in charge of the tongs, and he served up his handmade gourmet beef burgers, pepperoni, sausages and kebabs to those gathered.
Mr Fittler said he was delighted to be involved in the event and hoped to use the exposure to build his business.
"I will also be holding a world's hottest sausage competition, but before you take part, you will have to sign a waiver, and everyone entrant will get a complimentary packet of toilet paper to take home," Mr Fittler said.
Armidale Regional Council events manager Anna Stevenson said Civic Park will be fenced off, and the two-day festival will be an adults-only event for those aged 18 and above.
"There will be local musicians playing during the day on Saturday with a headline act still to be announced to play Saturday evening," she said.
"Then it will finish at 9 pm, and people can go off to the pubs."
There are four local breweries confirmed for the festival: Deepwater, New England Brewery, The Welders Dog and Great Hops.
"We've also extended an invitation to craft brewers down the coast, but only wineries and distillers from the high country will be invited," Ms Stevenson said.
The Welders Dog co-owner Tom Croft said the council approached him about the event last year.
"We are really excited to be involved in it, and it's great that council is recognising this area is full of fantastic craft breweries and distilleries and that this event is showcasing it," he said
"On the weekend, we will have some special beers and some special seasonals which are weather dependent. We will also have some barbecue products available.
"It has been a tough year, but I think people are really supportive of craft breweries and distilleries because they know that we employ locals."
Mr Croft said he hopes the festival continues on an annual basis.
"I think this is something Armidale could showcase for the entire New England region," he said.
Armidale Regional Council is expecting 3,000 people to attend the event each day. Cr Ian Tiley said the festival was to get people out and into town to have a good time after recent COVID-19 restrictions.
"It's about over 18's coming out to have a few beers and wines and good food," he said.
"We felt after COVID-19 we needed to get some social and economic activity going, and one of the council staff came up with this idea."
Local agricultural shows across the region have recently enjoyed record attendance, and tourism numbers have also been increasing according to Cr Tiley.
"In recent times, we've noticed an increase in tourism as people can't travel overseas, and we've benefited from that, but the local and regional economy will also benefit from the increase in tourism this event will bring," he said.
"It will bring people to town."
The Big Chill Beer & BBQ Festival will feature food, craft breweries, local wineries and distilleries, trade stalls and live music in Civic Park on May 15 and 16.
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