Adam Beard prepares his meat for the competition at the 2018 Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down.

Downtown Rocky Mount will become the center of food and fun during the 12th annual Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down on Oct. 11-12.

The Throw Down has been a staple of the fall in downtown Rocky Mount during the past 11 years, and this year’s event will prove to be no different. From 5-8 p.m. on Oct. 11, the festival will kick off with a Kids Zone, beer garden and food vendors.

SmithField will perform on the lawn of the Helen P. Gay Rocky Mount Historic Train Station from 6-7:30 p.m. SmithField is a Texas-based country music duo that will bring a rock-influenced sound to the stage.

The fun begins at 11:30 a.m. and lasts until 6 p.m. on Oct. 12 with a continuation of food and commercial vendors as well as the opening of an exhibit area from the Rocky Mount Energy Resources Department as part of Public Power & Public National Gas Week. Residents may also play PLINKO for a chance to win $100 off their city utility bill. Energy Resources also will have prizes, giveaways and kids’ activities available from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Food serves as the main event, and this year is no different as the Kansas City Balso BQ Society sanctions the competitions which include divisions of chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket. The People’s Choice Voting event on the food competition will take place from 1:30-3:30 p.m. The BBQ competition, open to any BBQ professional, will result in a Grand Champion winning a prize of $5,000.

“We look forward to showcasing these talented grillmasters while offering our residents and visitors an opportunity to enjoy downtown Rocky Mount during one if its signature annual events,” Parks & Recreation Director Elton Daniels said.

Returning to the event this year is the much-anticipated Hogs & Hotrods Cruise-In, where from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., attendees will vote on their favorite cars. Anyone wanting to show off their rides can register the day of the event for $10. Proceeds will benefit the Nash County Special Olympics.

Music continues on the lawn of the Helen P. Gay Rocky Mount Historic Train Station throughout the day with performances by The Bill Lyerly Band from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., The Conspiracy Band from 1:45 to 3 p.m. and The Rhythm Express Band from 3:45 to 5 p.m..

Anyone interested in becoming a vendor — food, arts and crafts, commercial, nonprofit — for the event may fill out an application at downtownrockymount.com.