Blues, Brews and Barbecues Festival
On a hot summer day, not much can beat the soulful sounds of the blues floating through the air, an ice-cold brew in hand to quench your thirst and the touch, smell and taste of messy, mouth-watering barbecued food.
All five senses are sure to be pleased during an afternoon of music, beer and food on opening day of the 2012 Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair.
Tickets are now on sale for the inaugural Blues, Brews and Barbecues festival. The event will kick off fair week from 3 to 11 p.m. on Sunday, July 8 at the fairgrounds.
“We’re hoping this will bring a lot of the community out, as well as attract people from out of town to Big Rapids,” said Jim Nostrant, event chairman. “Everybody I talk to says they’re going to come. Our goal for the first year is to have at least 2,500 people attend.”
Tickets for the event can be purchased in advance through Star Tickets at 1-800-585-3737 or at www.startickets.com, as well as at any Meijer store in Michigan and locally at Patterson’s Flowers and the Old Pioneer Store and Emporium. Those who attend the event will walk down a blue carpet — sponsored by Gilbert’s Carpet Plus Colortile — similar to “the red carpet” at Hollywood events.
Advanced tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children age 12 and younger; and tickets purchased at the door are $15 for adults and $7 for children. Premium seats between the stage and the grandstand are $20. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Lions Club of Big Rapids, which is organizing the event.
“We’ll use the proceeds for the local projects we sponsor, like providing eyeglasses and hearing aids, sending kids to juvenile diabetes camp and giving scholarships for Big Rapids graduating seniors going to college,” said Nostrant, a Lions Club member.
Two local blues bands — Keywest Permafrost Blues Band and Third Power — will play alongside Ludington’s Lou Thunder, Cleveland-based Blues Brothers tribute band The Soul Men, and Sharrie Williams, a Saginaw-based gospel blues singer who was nominated for 2012 Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year by the Blues Music Awards.
“We were able to get some incredible acts, including two really good local groups,” Nostrant said. “The Soul Men, who’s mother lives in Canadian Lakes, do one of the best tributes to the Blues Brothers in the nation right down to the tattoos on the knuckles. They’re going to emcee and perform between sets while other acts get ready.”
Six food vendors will be set up at the festival to serve finger-licking barbecue, including Smokey Bones BBQ, Big Dog BBQ, Gregory’s Grille, Triple D Catering, Kelly’s Catering and the Blue Cow Cafe. Elks Lodge No. 974, of Big Rapids, also will operate a beer tent. Food and beer are not included in the cost of admission.
In addition to music, beer and food, several local organizations and businesses will be on hand organizing games and operating information booths. The Jaycees will set up a local celebrity dunk tank; the Band of Locals will have information available about shopping locally; and a children’s play area with face painting, inflatable games and a photo booth, sponsored by Yeoman Photography, also will be at the festival.
Organizers are asking blues clubs and radio stations with blues programming to help promote the event to attract people from across Michigan. The West Michigan Blues Society, which has members from Kalamazoo to Charlevoix, is sending information about the event out in its regular newsletter.
“We all work together in promoting each other’s events to try to get the word out to all blues enthusiasts,” said Becky Richards, president of the West Michigan Blues Society. “Sharing information about blues events gives people an idea that performers are going to play in a given area, so they can say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be in that area at that time, let’s go check it out.’ It’s nice to have that interaction with our members and our sister societies.”
For more information or tickets to Blues, Brews and Barbecues, visit www.startickets.com or call 1 (800) 585-3737. Tickets also are available at all Michigan Meijer stores and locally at Patterson’s Flowers and the Old Pioneer Store and Emporium.