Go Fest: Jazz & Rib Fest
Why you should go
For 30 years, Columbus barbecue lovers have been lured by the promise of hot ribs - smoked, grilled, dry-rubbed and sauced in every imaginable way from the four corners of the country.
Nearly two dozen rib burners will line the streets of the Arena District to vie for the title of Best Ribs. Professional connoisseurs will award Critic's Choice, Critic's Hometown Choice and Best Sauce honors, and the public will pick its favorite, too.
And if mouth-watering meat isn't reason enough to visit, the fest also boasts more than 60 hours of live music from 40 jazz bands.
The location! Construction near the fest's longtime home, Bicentennial Park, spurred a move slightly up-river to the Arena District.
Much of the live jazz lineup will perform on the AEP Stage in McFerson Commons (home to the Union Station Arch) and the riverfront North Bank Park Stage. Vendors and barbecuers will line Spring Street and Long Street.
What to eat & drink
Well, there'll be ribs. Twenty-two rib burners - ranging from Kansas City's Bad Wolf Barbecue to Texas' Cowboy's BBQ & Rib Co. - will serve up their best smoked bones.
Local competitors include Lawshea's Southern Ribs, Open Hands Catering, Schmidt's and Smokin' Joes Ribs.
If you're not a huge ribs fan (um, why are you planning on going to the Jazz & Rib Fest again?), vendors will be grilling up other options, including Lake Erie perch and walleye as well as chicken and beef brisket.
For dessert, score samples at the M&M Ice Cream Summer of Fun booth.
To drink, you'll find plenty of that barbecue necessity, beer, as well as soft drinks. Keep an eye out for free samples of the new Sunny D Smoothies and Fruit2o Essentials.
Here are just a few of the most anticipated sets on the live-jazz lineup:
- Grammy-winning guitarist Norman Brown's Summer Storm (8 p.m. Saturday on the AEP Stage)
- Saxophonist and singer Mindi Abair, beloved for her pop-meets-jazz sensibilities (6:30 p.m. Sunday on the AEP Stage)
- Renowned jazz saxophonist Lou Donaldson, performing bebop and soul jazz with his quartet (8:30 p.m. Saturday on the North Bank Park Stage)
- The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, with their blend of traditional New Orleans sounds and modern jazz (8:30 p.m. Friday on the North Bank Park Stage)
The new Jazz Cafe, a performance space at the North Bank Pavilion. Local and regional artists will play on an intimate riverfront stage offering a great view of Columbus' skyline.
What you need to know: Jazz & Rib Fest
When: Friday-Sunday, July 24-26
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Arena District
Parking: $10, available in Arena District surface lots and garages