By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Last year, food vendors at the London Rib & Jazz Fest sold over 6,500 pounds of pork, up from 4,500 pounds the year before. That’s a whole lot of pulled pork, ribs and brisket.
Pat Closser, event chairman, hopes to see that number climb even higher as more and more people satisfy their hunger for good food, good music and an ever expanding variety of entertainment. This year’s Rib & Jazz Fest is set for 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Aug. 7-8 on and around Main Street in downtown London.
“This event grows every year, and everybody seems to really enjoy them-selves,” Closser said.
This year’s rib burners are Fire Smoke, Gumm’s Grill, London Kiwanis Club, Rudy’s Smokehouse, S&R Ribs and Wilson Family BBQ. They’ll serve up every carnivore’s dream and the sides to go with it. Other food offerings range from Texas tenderloin, hotdogs and hamburgers to mini doughnuts and homemade ice cream. The beer trailer will be in full swing, and more café style tables and chairs have been purchased to accommodate more diners.
Organizers have tightened up the music lineup, getting back to a focus on jazz and rhythm and blues.
“We’ve been able to get some real good bands. Some, like the Linda Dachtyl Trio, have been with us every year. And we’ve got a couple of national acts, too, with Sean Carney and Ray Fuller,” Closser said.
New this year is an open mic session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Local musicians are invited to sign up that day for their 15 to 20 minutes in the spotlight.
“Open mic is getting to be a big thing around town. There are a lot of talented people out there. This is a chance for them to get out on a big stage, get a little exposure, and rock it out,” Closser said.
Beyond food and music, the Rib & Jazz Fest offers plenty of other entertainment. New this year is the Ohio Region Viper Owners Association car show, which will take place on Friday night in conjunction with the festival’s regular car show.
The Vipers will arrive between 4:30 and 5 and set up by the courthouse. For $10, festival goers can go for a speedy, eighth-mile ride in one of the slick cars. All proceeds go to the Madison County Health Partners Free Clinic.
“It’s not just something new that will bring more people to the festival, but they’re also giving back to the community,” Closser said.
Two other events that will benefit charitable causes are a cornhole tournament and a dunk tank.
The cornhole tourney, set for Saturday, will benefit Melissa Hill who is going through treatments for a rare form of cancer. Melissa and her husband, T.J., are former London residents who now live in Atlanta, Ga. Their families are organizing the tourney to help her with expenses.
Check-in starts at 3 p.m., and the double elimination tourney starts at 4. The cost to enter is $20 per team. Prizes are $100 and trophies for first place, $50 for second, and $20 for third. Pre-register at Casey’s Carry-Out, 123 S. Main St., London.
Back this year is the Dunk a Dignitary booth. For $1 a ball, $3 for five balls or $5 for 10 balls, festival goers can take aim at dunking Closser, Madison County Common Pleas Judge Eamon Costello, Fire Chief Todd Eades, Madison County Commissioner Paul Gross, Police Chief David Wiseman and other local notables. Proceeds go to PAX to purchase pool passes for 2016 for children who can’t afford them.
The variety of children’s activities has expanded. Between 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday, the Ohio Wildlife Center will have live animals on display, a caricature artist will draw free portraits, and the London Visual Arts Guild will man a coloring book station. At the Touch a Truck display, kids can get a close-up look at a police cruiser, a fire truck, an emergency squad and other vehicles. They can also crawl through the Pleasant Township Fire Department’s firefighter smokehouse. Also planned are face painting, balloon animals, blacksmith demos and gem mining.
Shopping is another facet of the festival that draws people in.
“Our vendors have just exploded this year,” Closser said. “We’re going to have at least 20 selling handmade arts and crafts. That’s probably double what we had last year.”
Go to www.londonribandjazzfest.com or follow “Rib and Jazz Fest, London, Ohio” on Facebook for more information. The festival is presented by the Downtown London Association.
1:30-3:30 p.m.—InnerVision features Genene Blackwell and Sam Shepherd, Westerville residents and graduates of the Ohio State School for the Blind. They play contemporary Christian music, pop, blues, jazz, oldies and standards.
4-6 p.m.—Deuce ‘n a Quarter is a soulful, jumpin’ and swingin’ blues band from Columbus that mixes fresh original music with a variety of blues covers.
6:30-8:30 p.m.—Urban Jazz Coalition has been performing an energetic blend of rhythm and blues, jazz and fusion for the past 20 years.
9-11 p.m.—Sean Carney has played with many blues legends and is a masterful guitarist and vocalist in his own right.
1:30-3:30 p.m.—Performer, composer and former college music instructor Linda Dachtyl plays everything from jazz and blues to rock and classical music.
4-6 p.m.—The Drifter Kings are a contemporary blues band performing original and creatively arranged blues classics in a wide range of styles from Piedmont to Delta to Chicago.
6:30-8:30 p.m.—An all-original blue-rock band, Pett Crow is a band of talented teenagers whose upbeat sound has landed them gigs opening for Grammy award wining artists.
9-11 p.m.—Ray Fuller & The Bluesrockers have played their brand of low-down, gutsy blues for many years, leaving a trail of scorched stages and satisfied fans.
Car Shows (East and West Second Street)—Registration for the festival car show runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 7. Awards will be announced at 8:45. The entry fee is $10 per car. See the festival website for a link to a registration form. Last year’s show attracted 112 cars, the biggest turnout to date. Additionally, the Ohio Region Viper Owners Association will hold a car show from 6 to 8 p.m. on North Main Street, offering rides for $10 to benefit the Free Clinic.
Baked Goods Sale—The Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails (FMCPT) welcomes the donation of baked goods to be sold to benefit FMCPT. Items can be dropped off from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 7-8 at London City Council chambers, 6 E. Second St. The goods will be sold at FMCPT’s booth on Main Street. For details, go to fmcpt.com or call (614) 205-6754.
Rib Tickler Family Bicycle Tour—(start from Second and Oak streets). This 35-mile bike ride from London to Brighton and back will start at 9 a.m. Aug. 8. Registration is $25. For details, go to www.fmcpt.com.
Rib Tickler 5K Fun Run and Walk—The run/walk starts at 8 p.m. Aug. 8 at the county courthouse at the corner of Main and High streets. Registration is $20. Race bibs, course map and t-shirts can be picked up between 1 and 7 p.m. Aug. 7-8 at the Rib & Jazz Fest beer tent on Main Street. Prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female runners in three age groups. Go to www.londonribandjazzfest.com for a registration form.
Cornhole Tournament—Check-in by 3:30 p.m. Aug. 8. Competition will start at 4 p.m. The cost to enter is $20 per team. Pre-register at Casey’s Carry-Out, 123 S. Main St., London.