The event is a fundraiser for the school, which has a mission to provide a developmentally appropriate education to students who need a specialized learning environment, therapeutic interventions and supported social interactions.
“Last year’s event was great for an inaugural event,” said Mary Ulich, the school’s director of operations. “Over $20,000 was raised last year.”
She said she would like the party to bring in $50,000 this year.
“We hope that the entire community will come out this year, because we’re looking to double the size of the event,” Ulich said. “This year we’re hoping to attract 1,500 people.”
For $20 tickets, guests can enjoy food samples grilled up by 20 to 25 participating restaurants, community groups and local families. Attendees can also purchase a $250 reserved table for 10 with 10 grill-tasting tickets.
Ulich said many of last year’s grilling participants are returning, including Hop Alley Brew Pub, Smokejack BBQ and Harry’s Farmers Market, who is a presenting sponsor.
“Choate [Construction] is returning this year as a sponsor as well, and they bring championship barbecue chefs to be their grillers,” she said.
Ulich said event organizers are still accepting grilling participants and sponsors.
Awards will be given out for the best grillers. New this year will be a chef’s choice award with a judging panel made up of Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen and Shaun Doty of Bantam and Biddy, Ulich said.
There will also be a best tailgate award, a children’s choice award and two people’s choice awards given out to the top competitors in the restaurant category and the community group category.
In addition to all the grilling, the party will feature cuisine from two food trucks — Happy Belly and Olde Blind Dog. Alpharetta-based Jekyll Brewing will provide $5 glasses of beer. Students from the Lionheart School will sell water and soda, which helps them practice job skills, Ulich said.
“Every day they [operate] a snack bar at school, and so [selling] the sodas and water at Grilling and Gridiron is kind of an extension of that,” she said.
The grilling and tailgating is a precursor to the screening of the University of Georgia vs. South Carolina football game, which will begin at 3:30 p.m.