Tie on a bib and pack some extra wet naps: The Jazz & Rib Fest is coming to town.

The three-day, food-and-music festival is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, July 20, and Saturday, July 21, and from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22, along the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus.

Admission to the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department's 39th annual event is free.

Nancy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the department, said the number of talented participants -- whether attending to the grill or on a performance stage -- would be impressive.

"There will not be a single place in the festival where you won't be able to find the best food or best music in town that weekend," she said.

Twenty-three teams from Texas to Minnesota -- and even Canada -- will dish up barbecue staples and sides.

The barbecue purveyors will be judged at 8 p.m. July 20 on the Bicentennial Stage.

Categories will be for best overall, best pork rib, best pulled pork, best chicken and best beef brisket.

"So, you have all weekend to visit those folks," said Colvin, adding that the "people's choice" award would be handed out the final evening.

Of the 23 teams, nine are from Ohio, including Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant, which will serve Bahama Mamas, barbecue bratwurst, pulled pork, German potato salad, sauerkraut and its signature cream puffs.

Schmidt's ribs receive a dry rub of spices and are smoked over pecan wood. They then are vacuum packed and later removed from the packaging and grilled the same day while being brushed with a sweet-and-spicy barbecue sauce.

"We go through quite a few (ribs)," said Carla Epler, chief operating officer for German Village-based Schmidt's, the only central Ohio participant this year.

Colvin said teams who usually participate have the right of first refusal, meaning they can't be replaced at the festival unless they opt out.

"These are very coveted spots," she said. "These rib teams have been coming for a very long time."

This year, festival officials also are making it easier for diners to sit, with picnic tables and umbrellas in three areas near the Bicentennial Park stage, near the Genoa Park stage and at Belle and West Rich streets near COSI.

Meanwhile, acclaimed jazz acts from throughout the country will perform from noon to 9 p.m. July 20 and 21 and noon to 8 p.m. July 22 on the Bicentennial Park and Genoa Park stages.

Dave Koz & Friends and the JuJu Exchange will close the festival with performances that will begin at 6:30 p.m.

"It doesn't matter which stage you decide to watch; you're going to see a great performance," Colvin said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary