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Collards and barbecue served with love at annual South Carolina festival

It's the Town of Gaston's 38th annual Collard & BBQ Festival.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In Gaston, the smell of Southern cooking filled the air Saturday for the 38th Annual Collard & BBQ Festival.

The event kicked off Friday with a barbecue competition. Saturday's festivities continued the celebration with a parade.

"It started out as just collards," said Gaston's Mayor Troy Bivens. "The people who did it years ago would come together to cook collards and then they'd do the plates and sell them for a fundraiser. When I took over, we kept that going and I added the barbecue to it about eight years ago. We started doing a barbecue competition."

Along with the parade, the event hosted live entertainment for families and free rides and games for children.

Attendees could also browse local vendors who set up shop on Gaston Town Hall grounds.

The love is strong! ☮️🤝🏽❤️☺️ Gaston Collard & BBQ Festival

Posted by PULL Community Outreach on Saturday, October 2, 2021

"It has been a wonderful day here. The weather has been excellent, the music has been fantastic," said Dale Simpson, a vendor at the Collard & BBQ Festival.

For lunch, competitors in the barbecue cookoff shared their prize-winning entries.

"We'll use that meat for what we serve in our plates," said Bivens. "We get really good barbecue to serve with collard greens, black-eyed peas, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and pound cake."

And for Mayor Bivens, it's the food and community that come together to make this such a great event.

"It's just about getting together, everybody getting out and having a good time," he said.