Teams can still sign up for the Edamame Joe’s barbecue cookoff set for Saturday, April 1, as part of the 2017 Mulberry Edamame Festival in the city park.

This is the first year for the competition, with local teams vying to see who has the best barbecue in the area, said Alma Area Chamber of Commerce Director Bryan Huff. The competition and festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“If you own a business, this is a great way for you visit with your customers and recruit new ones at the same time,” Huff said.

Van Buren country band Backroads will perform Friday, March 31, as the barbecue pit masters set up the night before the contest, Huff said. The performance is free to the public, he said.

Huff is helping organize the festival with Monica Freeland with the Mulberry Mayor’s Office. They decided to include the barbecue contest this year as a way to draw visitors from around the region, Huff said.

The first eight to 10 barbecue teams to register and pay the entry fee of $40 will be entered, Freeland said.

Tasting plates will be available to the public for $7 the day of the festival or $6 until Friday from the Mulberry City Complex or Alma Area Chamber of Commerce office.

Visitors can sample each team’s barbecue as often as they like and vote for their favorite, Huff said.

Cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place, and there will be a $200 cash prize for “people’s choice.” The cook-off is being presented by Today’s Bank.

Those interested in entering a team in the barbecue cookoff or helping to sponsor additional music on March 31 can email the Alma Area Chamber at

Rules and entry forms for the cookoff also are available at or the Mulberry City Complex.

Festival goers also can taste edamame, listen to live music, ride a helicopter, enjoy the antique car and tractor show, and shop arts and crafts vendors, Freeland said. This is the fourth year for the festival.