With sunny weather, 12,000 to 13,000 guests are expected to turn out for the two-day Kingsgate Logistics Buckeye BBQ Fest presented by Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty. This year, there will be no admission fee.
“We wanted to make the event more available to families. This year, we are expecting bigger crowds and more families,” said Art Mathews, event chairman and Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty honorary member.
He said instead of paying $5 for admission, families with teenagers were paying up to $20 or $25 for admission. Then, they were spending $5 to $8 per person on food or drink. So, with no admission fee, it makes the event more accessible to more families.
This year’s Buckeye BBQ festival will be held on Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, at The Square @ Union Centre in West Chester Twp. Hours are 5 -11 p.m. Friday and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday.
Another change is the festival's tagline is no longer "Blues, Brews and BBQ." Now, it's "Bands, Brews and BBQ" with a focus on rock on Friday evening, and blues on Saturday night. On Friday, the headliner Hard Day's Night Beatles Tribute Band from Cleveland will take the stage at 9 p.m. On Saturday, Boscoe France will go on at 9:30 p.m. In all, there will be 10 live bands on the AstraZeneca stage. The music starts at 5 p.m. Friday, and at noon on Saturday. For an entertainment schedule, times and the complete lineup, go to www.buckeyebbqfest.org.
There will be about a dozen barbecue vendors on site, serving brisket, pulled pork, ribs and chicken. Other vendors will include dessert vendors, service providers and charitable organizations for a total of about 70 participating vendors throughout the festival.
Sponsored by Miami Valley Gaming, the Beer Garden will return this year. In all, there will be about 99 kegs of beer, including several local microbrews. A selection of wines will also be offered. There will be dining tents set up again this year. New this year, there will be a UCBMA VIP Bar and Tent, which will be available for corporate sponsor use.
The Hauser Air KidZone will offer inflatable rides and games on Friday and Saturday as well as face painting and caricature drawings. There will be a 12-animal petting zoo from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday.
Proceeds from the event benefit The Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty and will go back into the local community to organizations such as Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty, EDGE Teen Center, One Way Farm Children’s Home, Reach Out Lakota, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, among others.
“It’s certainly part of the mission of Rotary to give back. We are a service organization. Our motto of Rotary International is Service Above Self. So, being able to do good deeds, and give back is in line with the mission,” Mathews said.
Rotary also works with local schools, providing over $25,000 scholarships to Lakota East and Lakota West, among other endeavors. Nationally, the club supports Backpacks for Pine Ridge. The club also is one of the founding members of a water filter distribution project in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Mathews said The Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty currently has about 50 active members. More than 225 community volunteers help with the event each year. Many of the sponsors have been involved since the event’s inception.
HOW TO GO
What: Buckeye BBQ Fest
Where: The Square @ Union Centre, 9285 Centre Pointe Drive, West Chester Twp.
When: Friday, May 17, from 5 to 11 p.m. and on Saturday, May 18, from noon to 11 p.m.
Cost: Free admission. Food and beverage items are available for purchase.
More info: www.BuckeyeBBQFest.org. Bring a chair or blanket. No coolers or pets allowed. (Service dogs only.)
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