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The Demopolis "Christmas on the River Barbeque Cookoff" became Alabama official state barbecue championship of Alabama by Act no. 91-739 in 1991.
The "Christmas on the River Cook-off" started in Demopolis in 1989 as part of "Christmas on the River" festivities.
Cook-off is an event involving teams from nine states, 75 judges and 8,000 barbecue fanatics. There are three competitions - ribs, shoulders and whole
hog. The winner is eligible to participate in the World Championship "Memphis in May Barbeque Cooking Contest." In addition to the barbecue contest,
arts, crafts, parades and dancing go on for a whole week.
When the first parade was held in 1972, the water pageant with fireworks was called "Christmas on the River." Now festivities begin on the Sunday before the first Saturday in December. Each year more events are added.
Other events include the crowning of St. Nicholas, Lighting of the Tree celebration, a community-wide church service, a live nativity scene, candlelight tour of ante-bellum homes, music, crafts and a children's parade.
Two year-round house museums have special evening tours featuring 19th century decorations of fresh fruit and greenery. Bluff Hall and Gaineswood host the "Christmas in the Canebrake" party on the night before the river parade.
Traditionally the Canebrake Players begin the annual celebration with a matinee, one of several performances during the week. The First Baptist Church choir forms a "Living Christmas Tree" at the civic center for two evenings. Another tradition is an open house on Friday at the historic Roberston Banking Co.
The grand finale is a parade of decorated floats on boats and fireworks.
The White Bluff where Napoleonic exiles landed in 1817 is the grandstand where thousands stand along a mile of river bank to view the glittering pageant on the water stage.
For this year's current schedule of events write:
Christmas on the River
P.O. Box 667
Demopolis, AL 36732
The law designating the Demopolis Christmas on the River Barbecue Cook-off as the official Alabama state barbecue championship is found in the Code of Alabama 1975, Title 1, Chapter 2 Section 1-2-29
The Code of Alabama 1975
Chapter 2 STATE SYMBOLS AND HONORS.
Section 1-2-29 State barbecue championship.
State barbecue championship.
The Demopolis Christmas on the River Barbecue Cook-off is hereby designated as the official Alabama State Barbecue Championship.
(Acts 1991, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 91-739, p. 116; Acts 1991, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 91-748, p. 126.)