It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to lace up those rib bibs and pull out the folding lawn chairs, but indeed Columbus’ annual Jazz and Rib Festival is upon us yet again. For lovers of all things meaty and messy, there’s simply no better place to be this weekend in order to throw down on some of the nation’s best barbecue.
Touting itself as “Columbus’ largest free outdoor music festival,” Jazz and Rib Fest has something for everybody, whether you’re a jazz aficionado or a casual listener who’s just come to soak up some tunes. Past headliners have included such acts as the Byron Stripling Quartet, Dave Koz, Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy, and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. This year, CJO is making a return, along with 41 other local and national acts, who will be performing on 3 different stages throughout the park. You can find a festival map of all the stages, as well as a complete list of all the artists and their scheduled performance times on the festival’s website, www.hotribscooljazz.org.
Pit bosses from all over the nation will be in Columbus sharing some of their most famous and award-winning dishes with festival goers. This year, 23 different barbecue teams will be on site, filling the air with the smoky chargrilled aromas of some of the finest recipes in the country. Many of these grillers have won local, state, and even national barbecue competitions, so bring plenty of appetite if you’re interested in experiencing what all the buzz is about.
During the weekend, five awards will be given out to grillers, not the least of which is the coveted “People’s Choice” award. Once you’ve done your share of taste tasting, you can vote for your favorite griller at all first aid stations, information booths, and soft drink locations.
To try your hand at expert grilling at home, check out the Jazz and Rib Fest website for tips and recipes from some of this year’s grillers.
When I think of Jazz and Rib Fest, a few things immediately come to mind: jazz music, barbecue food, and dog-days-of-summer heat. Nowhere in there does getting a massage, kayaking down the Scioto River, or learning how to manage my money make an appearance. And yet, all of these things are available at the festival this year. The American Massage Therapy Association will be offering free 5-minute neck and shoulder massages all three days of the festival. Saturday only, the Fifth Third Bank E-Bus will be there educating festival goers on everything from money management to credit counseling and much more. Paddle in the City allows those curious or adventurous enough to rent a canoe or kayak for a fee and cruise along the Scioto River while enjoying the sounds of jazz on the water.
There are activities that are a little more logically suited to the festival’s theme, such as the Char-Broil Infrared Tour station. There, you can find grilling info, tips, and recipes, in addition to grilling demonstrations, a chance to sample barbecue, and prizes.