(Posted July 31, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
“The London Rhythm & Rib Festival represents the best sights, smells, and sounds of summer in a small town,” said Andrea Litchfield, one of the festival’s organizers. “Each year, we look forward to welcoming thousands to downtown London for great free music, delicious ribs, cold beer, and good times.”
This year’s Rhythm & Rib Fest is set to take place 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Aug. 4-5 on and around Main Street in downtown London. Admission is free. Plenty of food, bands, and activities are on the schedule.
Wilson’s Family BBQ, Off The Bone BBQ, and Big Pappy’s BBQ will dish up finger-licking ribs, chicken, brisket, pulled pork, and delicious sides as this year’s rib burners. The beer tent will be close by.
Other vendors setting up shop are Miller’s Ice Cream, J.D. Layton’s serving desserts and lemonade, T&A Fries, Casey’s Carry-Out, Fuller Flavor featuring burgers, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, and more, and A&L Food Truck specializing in street tacos.
The entertainment lineup includes returning performers along with acts that are new to the festival.
Friday, Aug. 4
12-1:30 p.m.–London’s own Matt Rees will open the festival. A singer and guitarist, he has played more than 1,300 lives shows and written over 100 songs. He plays everything from Train, and Radiohead to The Beatles, Elton John, and Roy Orbison.
2-3:30 p.m.–Counterpoint, an acoustic duo, performs songs from the 1960s and ‘70s with a strong emphasis on vocal harmony. Think Jimmy Buffet, The Eagles, The Everly Brothers, and Neil Diamond.
4-5:30 p.m.–Deuce ‘n a Quarter, a top placer at the 2023 International Blues Challenge, plays a mix of original music and classic American blues. The band is named after Buick’s Electra, a car that came out in 1959 that measured 225 inches or a deuce and a quarter.
6-9:30 p.m.–Old Skool is new to the festival. The group’s play list is an ‘80s and ‘90s tribute to the golden age of hip hop, rhythm and blues, dance, pop, rock, funk, and disco music with some current hits thrown in for good measure. Expect mashups, choreographed stage moves, and throwback costuming.
Saturday, Aug. 5
12-1:30 p.m.–School of Rock kicks off Saturday’s lineup. The band mixes young musicians with old hits.
2-3:30 p.m.–New to the festival, the Don Norman Band is all about vintage R&B, ‘50s blues, soul, swing, Americana, and original material. Formed in Athens, Ohio, the group has been performing in the Columbus area and around Ohio for 15 years.
4-5:30 p.m.–The Victorious KayBirds are back for the second year in a row. Based in central Ohio, they play a little bit of everything, including rock, soul, blues, and country. They describe themselves as a “joy-inducing” band.
6-9:30 p.m.–Another newcomer, the LA Chic Band, will help to bring the festival to a close. Members hail from Los Angeles and Columbus. Their vibe is “Sunset Strip and Los Angeles attitude meet traditional Nashville and Ohio honkytonk–hard-hitting rockabilly, rock-based blues, steeped in style.”
Cornhole Tournament, Raffles, 5K, dunk tank, and cruise-in
The Merri Mac Park Miracle group is hosting a double elimination cornhole tournament starting at 7 p.m. Aug. 4. The entry fee is $40 per team. Cash prizes go to the top teams: first place, $500; second place, $300; third place, $100. On-site sign-ups are 5:30-6:30 p.m. Advance sign-ups can be made by sending a message through the Merri Mac Park Miracle Facebook page.
The group also is hosting a free face painting booth during the festival, a 50/50 raffle (drawing at 9 p.m. Friday), and a Barbie powerwheels raffle (winner announced at 8 p.m. Saturday). Proceeds go toward improvements at Merri-Mac Park in London.
The London Kiwanis Club is hosting a 5K race at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 5. The cost to enter is $30 for adults and $20 for ages 18 and younger. Each age group winner receives a medal. The deadline to register is Aug. 4. Visit BBQ Boogie 5K to sign up.
The festival cruise-in is set for 4-8 p.m. Aug. 4 and is open to all makes and models of classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles. There is no cost to enter; pre-registration is not required. The event includes a 50/50 drawing and door prizes. For details, call Hot Dog Dick Ryman at (937) 631-2371.
Festival visitors will have opportunities to dunk local dignitaries both nights, 4-8 p.m. Among those on the wet seat are Madison County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Klamo, London City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lou Kramer, London Mayor Patrick Closser, London Police Officer Mike Combs, and Madison County Commissioner Chris Wallace. The London Music Boosters will run and benefit from the dunk tank.
Event organizers welcome anyone who wishes to volunteer with setup, teardown, cleaning, selling beer tickets, or pouring beer. To express interest, send a message through the London Rhythm & Rib Fest Facebook page.
“This event has grown over the years, and it’s because of the support of the Madison County community,” Litchfield said. “People love gathering at Rib Fest! Don’t miss it.”