The second annual Canal Winchester Blues and Ribfest Aug. 5 and 6 will offer an international flair, according to festival organizer Bruce Jarvis of Main Street Canal Winchester.

The second annual Canal Winchester Blues and Ribfest Aug. 5 and 6 will offer an international flair, according to festival organizer Bruce Jarvis of Main Street Canal Winchester.

Opening the weekend on the Main Stage, South African bluesman Rob Thompson, will share his take on an American brand of roots music, the blues. The 23-year-old guitarist and singer-songwriter from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, will be backed up by Ray Fuller's Bluesrockers.

"We've deliberately put strong acts all the way through from beginning to end," Jarvis said. "To that end, (Thompson) is opening up for us; I don't know if we'll ever be able to have someone from this far away again and this is his U.S. debut so we've got a really unique act."

Jarvis said the Main Stage will be placed at the intersection of High and Waterloo streets to take advantage of the acoustics and to provide better viewing throughout the festival and room for people to dance.

"We've expanded the footprint of this year's Blues and Ribfest to allow for more food, fun and relaxation," he said. "These changes should reduce lines at our rib and other vendors, offer more convenient dining spaces and provide a better space for children and adult activities.

"I may not get much time to relax during the festival, but I know everyone else will really enjoy it."

Last year's inaugural event hosted nine rib vendors. This year's event will have 12, according to Jarvis. He also expects this Blues and Ribfest to surpass last year's 20,000 attendees.

"People can expect more food vendors, a larger beer garden," Jarvis said. "We've added dining tents with fans so people can get out of sun, and there are bounce houses, face-painting and balloon-sculpting for the kids. We'll also have local arts and crafts vendors."

Canal Winchester community affairs director Carrie Hoover said the festival is good for business in the city.

"The festival provides another great event for our community," Hoover said. "We believe this event has a much broader draw, bringing in a larger outside group of people who otherwise might not discover Canal Winchester. Once they do, we think they'll come back."

Another new component this year gives other community organizations a chance to benefit from providing volunteers. According to Jarvis, groups that provide festival volunteers will receive a donation to their organization for their efforts.

"We feel the more members of the community involved, the better it will be for the community," Jarvis said. "At this time, the high school girls cross country team, Junior Miss teens, Rotary, Lions Club and VFW are all officially helping out."

According to the event website (www.bluesandribfest.com), there is limited available seating, so visitors should bring blankets and chairs. Outside food and beverages are not permitted. Organizers also are asking attendees to leave skateboards, bicycles and similar items -- as well as pets -- at home.

On-street and public-lot parking will be available in the areas adjacent to festival grounds. High and Waterloo streets will be closed to vehicle traffic downtown during the Blues and Ribfest.

"We're indebted to our sponsors and the city for their support," Jarvis said. "We wouldn't be able to do it without them and the volunteers that graciously donated their time."