Live blues music, world-class ribs and plenty of other activities will attract an estimated 40,000 people to Canal Winchester's historic district for the city's eighth-annual Blues & Ribfest at the end of the month.
Events are scheduled from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 28, and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 29. Admission is free.
National rib vendors, many of which will be at the Columbus Jazz and Rib Festival the week prior, will fill the air with barbecue wood smoke, according to Karen Stiles, executive director of Destination: Canal Winchester, one of the event's organizers.
"We bring in five vendors, and people often ask, 'Why don't you bring in more?' Because you do get some lines," Stiles said. "For the size of our venue ... these vendors are able to go to one line to seven in the blink of an eye. That's the appropriate number for our festival. They can handle that crowd."
Each year, first-, second-, third-place and people's choice awards are given for the best ribs. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite ribs at the information booth for the people's choice award, Stiles said.
"We take a sampling from each of the rib vendors, and the five judges judge them on flavor, appearance, texture – you name it," she said.
The festival also features 18 non-rib food vendors, including the Schmidt's Sausage truck, fan-cooled dining tents, children's activities and a wine and beer garden.
Parking will be available in areas adjacent to the festival grounds, which encompass an area around the High Street and Waterloo Street intersection, with additional handicap parking in designated areas on West Waterloo and North High streets.
Because of limited seating, visitors are urged to bring lawn chairs.
More than 20 acts will perform on the Main Stage and the Stradley Place Stage over two days, including three-time Blues Music Award winner Albert Castiglia, who will play from 9:30 to 11 p.m. July 28.
"Some of the best ribbers in the country will be here to serve their finest, so be sure to make your way downtown to enjoy great food and listen to some of the finest blues performers anywhere," Mayor Mike Ebert said.