There’ll be smokin’ and slidin’ at Heartland Mall this weekend with what’s become a special Brown County tradition for the weekend preceding Memorial Day.

That’s right. The Lone Star Rib Fest and Texas Old Time Fiddlers Contest starts Friday with the Texas Championship Rib Burn-off and “rib burners” have until Thursday to pre-register and get a $10 price break.

The fiddlers take center stage on Saturday. No early registration is needed — just be there by noon on Saturday to register. The music and contest starts after every one’s signed up. If you can’t fiddle, but like to listen, bring a lawn chair and come hear the music.

The annual event is sponsored by the Early Chamber of Commerce, Heartland Mall, Sears and American State Bank.

Again this year, as a tribute to America and to honor U.S. Troops past and present, American State Bank will post a field of 300 flags on the mall grounds off U.S. Highway 183. Flags will be posted Thursday evening and fly throughout the weekend and Memorial Day.

A run-down of the weekend’s events follows:

• Texas Championship Rib Burn-off — Official start time is 5 p.m. (Set up is 4 p.m.) Friday. The early registration, due by 5 p.m. Thursday, is $50, plus one cooked brisket. Late registration is $60 plus one cooked brisket. (The briskets go to the Pecan Valley Kiwanis Club to be sold during the weekend as a fund-raiser.) Call the Heartland Mall business office, 646-8531, or, e-mail for entry information. Categories include baby back ribs, spare ribs and country-style ribs.

The contest has a $5,000 purse, with a trophy going to first place and cash awards going to first through 10th.

Cookers welcome the public to view their rigs, which will be set up in the mall parking lot close to the U.S. Highway 183 entrance.

• Sears Amateur Tailgate BBQ Contest — This cook-off is designed for the amateur backyard cooker. Cooks must cook on a backyard type grill, not a smoker on a trailer. Cooks should be ready to fire up their grills at 9:30 a.m. Saturday — and start out with raw meat. The meat must be cooked on site, but can be any style rib. Cooks may also grill a side dish.

There’s no entry fee. Registration forms and a complete set of rules are available at the Early Chamber of Commerce, Heartland Mall or . Winner receives a new grill from Sears ($600 value).

First through third places will be awarded in both rib and side dish categories.

• Heartland Mall Teen Board Fashion Show — They’ll be showing off the latest in patriotic fashion. Show starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, center stage of the mall.

• Children’s area — Kids can play for free from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the mall. There’s a jump house, and a variety of fun things to do — even get a patriotic tattoo.

• Kiwanis Brisket Buy — Starting at 11 a.m., the Pecan Valley Kiwanis Club will sell brisket sandwiches, with chips, for $5 (while the supply lasts). Brisket by the pound will also be available for sale.

Then in the early afternoon, when the judging’s done, the Kiwanians will be selling ribs by the pound.