(Posted April 19, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
After a year away, finger-licking ribs and toe-tapping live music are set to return to the streets of downtown London the first weekend in August.
Mayor Patrick Closser announced at the April 15 city council meeting that, as long as it is safe to do so, the city’s annual Rib & Jazz Fest will take place this year, albeit with a new name and a wider variety of music.
“We’re renaming it the Rhythm & Rib Fest. It got hard to find eight to 12 jazz bands to play. We were bringing in a lot of blues bands because they were easier to find,” Closser said.
After canceling the festival last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers decided this was the year to rebrand.
“New name. Same awesome festival: car show, dunk tank, great music. We will still have jazz there, we will still have some blues there, but we’re going to open it up a little bit–maybe get a rock-n-roll band or two in there,” Closser said.
As usual, plenty of good food will be offered but with some setup changes to abide by health department guidelines related to COVID-19 safety measures. More space between rib vendors is planned to allow for social distancing among customers standing in line for food.
Closser acknowledged that festival plans could change based on the state of the pandemic and the number of positive cases, but he is optimistic the event will go on as planned. It is set for Aug. 6-7.
“Hopefully, with people getting vaccinated and everything, we’ll see these numbers get in check a little bit, and we can have, hopefully, some sort of normal summer this year,” he said.
Along those lines, Closser also announced that the city plans to have an Independence Day parade this year. Health department pandemic regulations prevented the city from hosting a parade last year.
This year’s parade is scheduled for the morning of July 3. Lineup is at 10 a.m.; the parade steps off at 11. The London High School marching band has already committed to participating. The fireworks display is scheduled for that evening.
If health department guidelines change, taking a traditional parade off the table, Closser said he has an idea for how to pull off a non-traditional parade. The idea is a reverse parade, like the one the city of Dublin held on St. Patrick’s Day this year.
The city’s swimming pool also is preparing for a higher degree of normalcy this summer with plans to have all pools open. Last year, the small pool and the racing pool were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Opening day is May 29.