Staff Photo by Lori Yount-- S&T Barbecue cook Bernard Moore prepares sausages and shoulders for an expected small lunch crowd today before tonight's Bessie Smith Strut on M.L. King Boulevard.
The barbecue pits are already smoking along M.L. King Boulevard, and lucky lunchers might be able to find a vendor or two already willing to sell a taste of tonight’s Bessie Smith Strut.
Road closures begin at 1 p.m. on MLK from Market Street to University Street. Some side streets will also be closed.
Bessie Smith Strut
1 p.m.: Road closures begin on M.L. King Boulevard
5 p.m.: Blues music begins
8:15 p.m.: Alcohol sales typically end
8:45 p.m.: Music ends
S&T Barbecue was starting early and would be “ready to serve” plates of sausages, ribs and chicken wings at about 12:30 p.m. at their spot at Foster Street and MLK, co-owner Shasta Williams said.
Ms. Williams said set-up today began at 6 a.m., but much more preparation was needed throughout the year to rent the parking lot space from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and put down money and paperwork with MLK merchants to secure a place for Riverbend’s huge blues block party.
“It’s something you plan all year,” she said.
The barbecue joint plans to serve more than 500 people, and Ms. Williams said they’re stocked with 17 cases of ribs and more than $2,000 worth of chicken wings.
She said she hopes it will last through the almost 40,000 strutters expected this year.
“We’ll be here until the end,” Ms. Williams said, adding seven employees will be working during dinner hours.