Saturday evening in downtown Marion, you can enjoy some of the region’s best craft beer, listen to some good live music and eat lots of tasty barbecue at the first ever Brews, Blues & BBQ Festival.

And by doing so, you can help families with infants who need extra medical care at the start of their young lives.

This inaugural Brews, Blues & BBQ Festival will start at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and will cover both Main and West Court streets in Marion. It will end around 9:30 p.m.

Brews, Blues & BBQ will feature craft beverages from Catawba Brewing, Highland Brewing, Foothills Craft Brews, Twin Leaf Brewery, Ginger’s Revenge, Noble Hard Cider, Sycamore Brewing and Rogue Ales & Spirits.

The brewers will be located in a beer garden in the downtown. To enter the beer garden, visitors will need to purchase an entrance ticket ahead of time at www.gjafoundation.com or during the event on Saturday.

The aroma of barbecue will also fill the North Block. Rocky Hill Bar-B-Que, Mechanics BBQ, Doc Brown’s BBQ and the Top Fuel Grill are the food vendors who will be on hand.

A barbecue competition will also be held during the event. For $5, visitors will receive samples from each entrant competing in the barbecue competition as well as tickets that they can use to vote for their favorite barbecue. A people’s choice award will be given to the vendor with the most tickets and an overall winner will be chosen by a panel of local judges. Each winner will receive a trophy, according to a news release.

And while folks are sipping craft beverages and eating barbecue, the downtown will come alive with the sounds of some rocking blues music. The bands lined up for this festival include Jesse Barry & the Jam, the Red Dirt Revelators, Eastside Blues Project and Fried Melon Blues Band.

In addition, Brews, Blues & BBQ will have a car show, hosted by Doug McCraw and the Five Lane Cruisers, and a motorcycle show. There will be a family zone where children can have fun, according to the news release.

“We have a pop-up cardboard playground as well as a few inflatables,” said co-organizer Cody Andrews to The McDowell News. “We also will have several retail vendors. We didn’t want to over crowd the street with vendors, like other festivals. We want to leave big corridors for walking and space between the vendors so customers can get in and browse items.”

Andrews said he and his wife Samantha ended up turning away more than 100 vendors this year.

“We want to keep things tame, and make sure we have this ‘festival’ thing under control before we go all our next year,” he said to The McDowell News.

For Cody and Samantha Andrews, this event is much more than just about having a good time in the downtown. It is a fund-raiser for families with infants born prematurely and become patients in a hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit.

“We are throwing this festival, to raise funds for families with babies in the NICU,” said Andrews to The McDowell News.

Last year, he and Samantha had their first and only son born just four weeks before their business Mountain Marquee opened. Their son was born three months and two days early.

“He was extremely small, and he had lung issues,” said Andrews to The McDowell News. “After 96 days of battling, crying, and struggling, we finally got to take our son home. The whole situation caused my wife to lose her job with the state, and put us personally in a huge financial bind.”

Luckily, the couple had their savings and Andrews was able to find a new night job. They had their business to help them get through.

“While we were at the NICU, we saw several families that were not so fortunate,” said Andrews to The McDowell News. “Families that couldn’t afford to stay near their kid, or even visit due to the cost of fuel and food. We want to make sure no family ever had to go through that alone. We want to pay for their fuel, their room, and their meal. That is because the mother being present in the NICU is a proven contributor to a better outcome for the baby. No family should ever have to worry about gas, hotel, or food money when they are fighting for their child’s life.”

For this reason, Cody and Samantha Andrews created the Greyson J. Andrews Foundation. They plan to use the money from this festival and several other events in the future to provide funding to families through direct targeting, with the help of hospital social workers.

“Our long term goal is to use the funding from our non-profit to purchase a house in Asheville and neighboring communities with at least 10 rooms, where we could house, feed, and fuel NICU families,” said Andrews.

For this festival, Cody and Samantha Andrews said they are pleased to have Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem as the flagship sponsor. “Their dedication to the NICU families is as passionate as our own,” he said. “We cannot thank them enough for coming to our small town, from their home 2 hours away, and making this festival a reality.”

They have also received donations from Highland Brewing, Rouge Nation Brewing, Ginger’s Revenge, Sycamore, Noble, Twin Leaf and Catawba Brewing. They also appreciate the help from McCraw for the big car show and the sponsorships from the McDowell Chamber of Commerce and Rhonda Silver Real Estate Group.

Andrews said his wife deserves the credit for making this festival possible. Together, they have worked hard to make it happen when most festivals have five or more people doing the organizing, he said.

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