NORTH LIBERTY–Liberty Centre Blues & BBQ festival is preparing to turn out another blue plate special.
The free, family-friendly event turns five this Sunday, growing from a relatively modest, small town festival to a widely-celebrated, much-anticipated small town festival. Though attendance has increased– estimates for the first year were around 1,500, while the 2010 brought an estimated 6,400 guests– the relaxed, kicked-back ambiance and much of the day’s offerings remain the same.
For starters, the day still offers a variety of free games and activities for kids. Inflatable fun includes an obstacle course, Monkey Mountain, a bungee run, Inflatahoops, a bouncy house and a giant slide. Kids can get in touch with nature at the interactive petting zoo or fishing in Liberty Centre pond, where the biggest catch gets the biggest prize. A number of local organizations will be on hand with assorted amusements, such as balloons, face painting, temporary tattoos, a bucket toss, duck pond games, ladder ball and bean bag tosses, Plinko and ring toss games, sur-prize fishing and baseball speed pitching. The North Liberty volunteer firefighters will be on call with the department’s big rigs on display, anticipating a visit from the AirCare Emergency Transport helicopter. For a small fee, anyone can test their aim at the dunk tank, soaking the heads of well-known North Liberty personalities. Most children’s activities end between 5-7 p.m.
Beverages include those available through purchase at the many vendor booths, as well as the expanded beverage garden, where all ages are welcome, and patrons 21 and older can cool off with an icy cold draft of Miller Lite, Coors Lite, Fat Tire, or Blue Moon beer.
As a main course, enjoy an entire day’s worth of free, live music, performed by Iowa’s quintessential blues artists. The day kicks off at 12 p.m. with Dave Zollo and the Body Electric, followed by the Quad Cities-based Avey Brothers at 2:30, Kevin “BF” Burt and the Instigators at 5:15, and headliner Bob Dorr and the Blue Band beginning at 7:45.
As always, smoking hot barbecue and other delicious treats will be available for purchase. Several local barbecue chefs will be at their grills all day, cooking up delectable meats for the crowd as well as a panel of seven judges who will choose the best of the best during the barbecue contest; winners will be announced at 5 p.m. In addition to tasty barbecue, vendors will be serving up other finger-licking fare like crepes and pitas, Mediterranean selections, kettle corn and hamburgers, sno-cones and ice cream.
Finally, the cherry on the cake is a first-ever Liberty Centre fireworks show, beginning at 10 p.m. Kids 14 and under can enter the raffle during the day, for a chance to detonate the first big bang of the evening.
The entire course of food, music and fun will be dished up Sunday, May 29, from 12–10 p.m., in the heart of North Liberty, just to the north of Liberty Centre Park & Pond at Penn Street and Liberty Way.
It’s one day, one party, one cool time. Don’t be late.