SMOKE ON THE WATER 5 p.m., NLR Riverside Park, $5.
Very few things have the power to both unite and divide people as instantly and astringently as barbecue. Wet v. dry, mustard v. vinegar v. tomato: for meat jockeys and foodies alike, these are opinions as intensely held as those regarding Roe v. Wade. (Check out the comments section on “Sauce Wars, Cont.”
on the Times' Eat Arkansas
blog for proof.) Food sociology aside, this will be a massive gathering of career pitmasters alongside weekend meatmen, all hazing the park with a smoky mosaic of slow cooked swine, poultry and beef. Friday, local cover bands perform in the evening. On Saturday, the festival continues at noon. There's music all day, along with carnival and hot air balloon rides. Saturday night, Jersey Shore by way of Myrtle Beach duo LoCash Cowboys (8 p.m.) and hillbilly rapper Colt Ford (9:30 p.m.) provide a soundtrack to the gluttony. Bring your appetites, your Tums and best shop talk.