People & Places

Your guide to North Liberty Blues & BBQ

Music, food, craft beer and family fun on tap Saturday

Richard Rodney, of Iowa City, adds some sauce while cooking for  Rodney's Jamaican Jerk and BBQ during the North Liberty Blues & BBQ festival Saturday afternoon, July 9, 2016, in North Liberty. (Dan Williamson/Freelance)
Richard Rodney, of Iowa City, adds some sauce while cooking for Rodney's Jamaican Jerk and BBQ during the North Liberty Blues & BBQ festival Saturday afternoon, July 9, 2016, in North Liberty. (Dan Williamson/Freelance)
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NORTH LIBERTY — Blues, booze and barbecue — and a lot of free, family fun.

The 11th annual North Liberty Blues & BBQ festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Park, 1565 St. Andrews Dr.

The event features more than 15 food vendors, a beverage garden with Iowa craft beers, inflatables, carnival games and, of course, music.

Nick Bergus, co-chairman of the Blues & BBQ planning committee, said festival organizers are expecting upward of 15,000 people this year. When the festival began as a new pond and park celebration, nearly 1,000 people turned out. Since then, the festival has aimed to refine it’s mission and add elements that would lead to a better experience.

“It started with a lot of local acts on a small stage,” Bergus said, noting that what he’s most looking forward to on Saturday is a performance by festival headliner Anderson East.

Bergus said he’s also looking forward to the community building.

“I’m excited that we continue to grow to meet the demand from the folks here in North Liberty and Johnson County,” he said. “I love seeing the kids and the community building ... and getting everyone together in the park.”

Before you head out, here’s what you need to know to help navigate this year’s festival:

Q: How much does it cost to enter the festival grounds?

A: Free

Q: What is the Everyday Arts Pavilion?

A: A shaded area where kids can have fun while interacting with the arts and local nonprofits and service organizations. The area is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Q: What is the Front Porch Playground?

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A: A play area for kids featuring inflatables, games, a petting zoo and Diaper Depot, where parents and babies can take a break in the shade, make a quick change or grab some supplies they might have forgotten at home. It’s also open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Q: Is there a road race taking place Saturday?

A: Yes. The North Liberty Community Pantry Turkey Trot steps off at 9 a.m. with a 10-kilometer run/walk, 5k run/walk and 1-mile run. Find registration information at northlibertyblues.org.

Q: Is there a kite stunt performance planned?

A: Yes. 180 Go! presents a show at noon.

Q: What time does Food Vendor Alley open?

A: Food items are available to purchase beginning at 11 a.m. The fare includes ribs, pulled pork and burned ends, along with pizza, ice cream and sno-cones from more than 15 vendors.

Q: What time does the Beverage Garden open?

A: 11 a.m. Iowa craft beers are on tap for $5 each. Root beer and water also will be sold. No alcoholic beverages are allowed outside the Beverage Garden.

Q: Will there be live music?

A: Of course, it’s a blues festival. Here’s the schedule: 1 p.m. — Zach Harris Band; 3 p.m. — The Janeys; 5 p.m. — Bernemann Brothers Band; 7 p.m. — Aaron Kamm and the One Drops; 9 p.m. — Anderson East. All shows are free to the public.

Q: Where can I park?

A: Parking is available at Centennial Park (accessible from Jones Boulevard), Mar Lee Park, 595 Kansas Ave.; North Bend Elementary, 2230 St. Andrews Dr.; and University of Iowa Community Credit Union, 2355 Landon Rd.

Q: Is shuttle service being offered?

A: Yes. Shuttles to the festival grounds run from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. from the parking lots at University of Iowa Community Credit Union and North Bend Elementary.

Q: What is the weather forecast for the festival?

A: The National Weather Service is forecasting sunny skies with a high of 82 degrees during the day Saturday. Saturday night calls for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms with a low of 63 degrees.

Q: Can I still get tickets for the Pig & Pint Prelude fundraiser on Friday night?

A: No.

Q: Can I bring my dog?

A: No.

Q: Is smoking allowed?

A: No.

Q: Can I bring a cooler?

A: No.

Q: Should I bring cash?

A: Yes, to purchase food and beverages. An ATM will be on site at the festival.

Q: Where can I find more information?

A: northlibertyblues.org or (319) 626-5726.

l Comments: (319) 368-8531; alexandra.connor@thegazette.com

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