London Rib & Jazz Fest cancelled

The Wilson’s Family BBQ crew – Tommy Wilson (front), Kenny Rider (middle) and Gary Londergan (back) – preps mouthwatering barbecue for hungry visitors at last year’s London Rib & Jazz Fest. This year’s festival has been cancelled.

(Posted June 12, 2020)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Another festival is off the books for 2020.

The London Rib & Jazz Fest committee announced the cancellation of this year’s event, originally set to take place Aug. 7-8. The group cited concerns for the health and safety of participants, as well as changing state regulations, related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It takes months to organize the festival, and not knowing what the government regulations will be in August makes it difficult to plan ahead,” the committee explained in a statement issued on June 11. “We hold our event to a high standard and with the current regulations would not be able to put together an event that we would be proud of.”

The committee also factored sponsorships and a shortage of pork and beef into their decision.

“Much of the event is funded by community sponsorships, and many of our local businesses have had to temporarily close or have been negatively affected by the efforts to slow the spread of the virus. We feel it would be difficult to ask for donations while businesses recover from these past few months,” the committee stated.

Last year, the rib burners who set up shop at the festival turned out more than three tons of ribs and more than 1,000 pounds of pulled pork and brisket. During the pandemic, pork and beef have been hard to come by. Supply and costs for this year were a worry.

“Increasing costs of those products would greatly impact our loyal rib vendors and the price the public would have to pay to enjoy their fair,” the committee said.

This year would have marked the 13th year for the Rib & Jazz Fest. In addition to the food, the event features a full line-up of live music, a classic car show, a celebrity dunk tank, a cornhole tournament, art vendors, children’s activities, the Super Hero Run, Walk & Roll, and the Rib Tickler bike ride. The event takes place on the streets of downtown London.

“We were looking forward to the festival and hoping for a return to normalcy. We are sorry that this difficult decision had to be made, but we are certain that it is the right one,” the committee stated. “May these challenging and uncertain times find us working even closer together to make the 2021 event bigger and better than ever.”

Next year’s Rib & Jazz Fest is set for Aug. 6-7. To learn more about the festival, visit www.londonribandjazzfest.com.

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