Competition may be especially hot this year as the free Seventh Annual Smoke on the Square unfolds with a record number of teams Friday and Saturday on the historic Hope Town Square.

“I think this is just a matter of us getting to the point of being known,” founder and coordinator Jeff Yarnell said.

Plus, last year’s event — the first in an expanded, two-day format — raised a record of more than $9,000 for the nonprofit Community Center of Hope. The center provides services ranging from child care to a food bank.

This year’s event will feature at least 28 groups of people vying for prestige, cash and prizes in a barbecue competition featuring pork, ribs, brisket and chicken. Teams still can register up until Friday, although only teams already registered can be a part of the People’s Choice Award, in which attendees vote on the best food.

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Last year, an estimated 1,200 people attended the rain-or-shine event, which has become the largest non-sanctioned event of its kind in the state, Yarnell said.

Entertainment this year will include the local Night Owl Country Band on Friday and the local Haw Creek Experience on Saturday.

Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. until all food is sold — normally about 7 p.m. — on Saturday.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.